General Election 2019 – a thank you from Diana Toynbee

Huge thanks to everyone who helped with delivering election leaflets, for campaigning in all weathers and for your donations and support. The overall result for the country is dreadful, but Greens are strong, locally and nationally – thanks to you! I got 4.8% of the vote, well above the England average of 3%. And Ellie got 9.3%, the sixth highest Green vote share in the country!

This amazing effort and result deserves celebration. On Wednesday 18th there’s the Big Green Festive Drinks at Left Bank Hereford from 7.30pm with complimentary mince pies and mulled wine.

We’ll also use this opportunity to have our next Hereford & South Herefordshire Green Party meeting, at 6pm – all welcome. 

Bridge over the River – Wye?

Letter to Hereford Times 17 August 2017

River’s role
THERE are interesting links to be made between recent items in the Hereford Times.
The river party ‘Wye Float’, and Herefordshire Lore’s new project ‘River Voices: Stories from the Wye’ are just two examples of the central role this beautiful river plays in our lives.
And of course this is the time of year when we see hundreds of tourists enjoying canoeing, birdwatching, and walking the Wye Valley walk.
Our council promotes the Wye as a prime attraction, and recommends walking from Hereford to Breinton Springs to admire this unspoilt stretch of river, and its surrounding meadows, orchards and woods.
Meanwhile, Tony Johnson, our county council leader, tries to persuade us of the ‘need’ for a massive bridge and road through west Hereford ‘to open up space for new housing’.
This road is also being promoted by the council as a relief road for the motorway system! More houses and more traffic – not exactly solutions to congestion!
Last week’s item on planning permission being refused for the decking and summerhouse overlooking the river Wye quoted councillors’ views that the construction ‘adversely affected the character and amenity of the landscape’. Following that reasoning, how much would smashing an enormous new bridge and road through Breinton’s unique scenery ‘adversely affect the character and amenity of the landscape’?!
Mr Johnson also appears in the paper making another desperate plea for suggestions on how to save money.
A good place to start would be to cancel this hare-brained scheme, which, as we know from experience, would end up costing us all a fortune, as well as causing irreparable damage to the precious green lung to the west of our city.

DIANA TOYNBEE

A thank you from Diana

THANK YOU so much for your confidence and support over the past 7 weeks. I’m disappointed not to have delivered a better result. I’m really proud of Ellie in North Herefordshire, who got one of the best Green results in the country.

Thank you to those of you who spent so many hours leafletting or canvassing. Our campaign was professional, principled and passionate – people saw that, and I know that our time wasn’t wasted.

Our 2015 and 2017 campaigns, three county councillors, and ongoing commitment, have demonstrated to Herefordshire that we are competent, hard-working and really care, and we can continue to build on that (after a rest!). I could not be more proud of the campaign we ran, or of the AMAZING team we are lucky enough to have in Hereford. I could not have felt more supported, and appreciate every word of encouragement, every card delivered, and every conversation engaged in on behalf of us all.

I literally lost count of the number of people who told me ‘I love Green policies, and I think you’re the best candidate, but I’m not voting for you’, and this was reproduced around the country. It’s obvious why Green supporters have voted Labour, but it’s been pretty galling when people say a Green vote is wasted here, and go on to vote for a candidate who clearly wasn’t going to beat Jesse either!

Even though this result has been hard for the party nationally, and the thousands of activists who have thrown themselves heart and soul into working for the common good, we are genuinely delighted to see progressive politics back in the mainstream, and very proud of our role in this. It’s so exciting to see young people getting engaged, Tory lies and arrogance backfiring, and national debates continuing about the sort of politics we want.

Caroline and Jonathan have received massive admiration in the media for their outstanding, eloquent, principled campaigning. More and more prominent commentators are calling for an end to the scandalously undemocratic electoral system. PR has to be one of our main campaigns now – not just for the Green Party, but for democracy, and to move beyond the reductive red-blue boxing ring. Democracy needs diversity, and in a fair system there is plenty of room for all. The tide is turning!

Here in Herefordshire we will continue to be active in opposition, exposing Jesse’s voting patterns, protesting cuts, and pushing the local council to be more transparent. And of course we will continue our work for the health of our people, society, public services and nature.

We can all be proud to be members of the most progressive party, and the only one that understands that our natural environment has to be at the centre of political decisions.

I stood for parliament, but I’m just an ordinary member, and would love to get together more with others so we can build our confidence and courage. Please get in touch, with feedback on the campaign, ideas for activities or campaigns, or anything else. Green policies, and the Green way of doing politics, is needed now more than ever, and we have come out of this campaign with increased respect. No-one else is doing what we do, so let’s keep campaigning with pride and courage.

Best wishes, and good heart

Diana

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.

It’s Tories not agencies privatising our NHS

It’s good to read in Bill Wiggin’s ‘Talking Point’ last week that he wants to stop our money being wasted on agency staff in the NHS.  I agree with him that ‘it is important that the NHS is able to manage its staffing budget and is not privatised by agencies who pay far higher rates’. However, it is not agencies who are privatising the NHS, it is his own party!  Many Herefordians are disappointed to see the support Bill, and Jesse Norman, have given over the years to the Government’s starving of our precious health service, and encouragement of wasteful internal markets.

Do we want Herefordshire to go the way of Bath and North East Somerset, where Virgin Care are now running NHS and social care services?  Where do we want our taxes to end up – in a nurse’s pocket or in Richard Branson’s tax haven?  The NHS is in serious danger, and to protect it as a public service, not a profit opportunity for big business, we have to challenge this Conservative obsession with breaking up and selling off our assets and services. It’s sad to see Bill and Jesse sharing this ideology, and I would like to remind them that Herefordshire is not for sale, the UK is not a business, and we are citizens not consumers. Some things, like the NHS, are priceless. 

Don’t frack the shires

Diana Toynbee supported a send off for Rick Guest, aka Gandolph, who is emulating Tolkein’s hero and, in this case going to London to raise awareness of proposed fracking and CSG/coalbed methane operations in the Wye Valley AONB, which straddles two counties of Herefordshire & Gloucestershire. Here you can see a short film of the 4 day event which started from Barclays Bank in Hereford.

PPC Report on 2015

At a very positive and productive AGM on September 8th a large group of us reviewed the year, discussed priorities and elected a new committee.

We are successfully maintaining our profile locally, and building on our excellent general election result.  As well as preparing for local, national and European elections we are actively challenging the anti-nature, anti-public service, pro-cuts agenda of Herefordshire Council and the government, and supporting Herefordshire’s Green councillors.

As part of our campaigning and support for local groups, we are founder members of the Herefordshire Transport Alliance, campaigning for sustainable transport in Herefordshire, and most urgently opposing the Southern Link Road.

We are delighted to be welcoming Natalie Bennett to Hereford on Friday October 2nd, to coincide with h.energy.  Before taking her to visit some events we are hosting a lunch at the Courtyard Theatre at 12 noon (lunch costs approx £9).  Everyone is welcome (you don’t have to be a Green Party member), but hurry – places are limited!

Greens dismayed by cuts to Citizens Advice

THE HEREFORD TIMES has recently been filled with reports about valuable services and projects that help the vulnerable: Citizens Advice Bureau, the Marches Access Point, and the Barnabas Deaf and Community Support Service. All reports had one common and dispiriting theme – because of funding cuts, the organisations are struggling to stay open or are to close.

Herefordshire Council itself has cut hundreds of jobs since 2010, reduced library and customer service opening hours and has had to trim its budget again this year to cope with another ‘tough’ central government settlement. Bus services and tourism support which are vital for our rural economy are losing financial support.

The prospect of Hereford CAB closing ought to be a wake-up call to local and Westminster politicians that cuts have gone too far. Instead the response has been a defensive letter from Councillor Johnson praising the council’s financial management and claiming that it “sticks to its priorities of protecting the vulnerable” (28 May 2015). The Herefordshire Green Party calls upon HCC to honour that pledge by committing to future funding for the CAB.

Mr Johnson also claims his earlier comments after the election, in “Council says Enough is Enough with Austerity” of 21 May, have been misinterpreted and weren’t a call for Jesse Norman and Bill Wiggin to moderate austerity. We think the CAB problems mean he should re-double his efforts rather then retracting his request for help.

Current policies are evidently damaging the vulnerable in society. I hope that our newly elected MPs will heed Tony Johnson’s original plea and not just direct a bit more money to Herefordshire but will try to get their government to reverse the austerity programme and truly ‘protect’ our services.

In the general election campaign, all the major parties claimed they would be best at managing the economy. In reality voters were being asked to choose one of three variants of austerity. My message was different – greater investment in public services, not more cuts and service restrictions. The Green Party is committed to building a society which supports everyone’s needs and to reversing the growing inequality of wealth. And that includes support for vital services like the CAB.

More about the CAB:

  • HCC grant to CAB last year was £117,000. In 2013/14 CAB helped over 5,000 individuals – 62% with a household income of less that £1,000 per month. The most common issues were around benefits (36%) and debt (29%). The main purpose of providing advice is to make a positive difference to people’s lives. But where outcomes can be quantified in monetary terms the CAB managed to deliver £4.4m to clients (enabling them to claim benefits they are entitled to & managing debts) – the vast majority of this would have been spent in the local economy.
  • Services have been withdrawn from Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury, Bromyard & Leominster. Without long term funding the service in Hereford will also have to close.
  • CAB helps Herefordshire’s most vulnerable people, many of whom will not have access to online services or even have money to make a phone call.

Ross May Fayre

We had a busy and successful time at the Ross May Fayre.  As expected many visitors were yet to decide how to vote, so our mini-manifestos were popular, helping voters from outside our constituency as well.

A trainee nurse grilled us about our plans for the NHS, a man seeking doughnuts was given directions, and a tall man who had earlier been blowing his own trumpet, tried to open negotiations about coalition.

The owners of a recently opened local café came and declared their support, and offered us the use of their premises as a meeting room.

All very positive!

A fair economy, not austerity

The Conservatives say we must race to ‘balance the books’, and cut even more, but the Green party believes a better way of rebalancing the economy is to invest in public services and in protecting the environment, also the mark of a caring, civilised society.

I don’t want ‘the job finished’ if that means more of the precious assets we own in common will pass into private hands, leaving us mourning our libraries, care homes, public forests and post offices. Or that public-sector workers become ever more stressed and demoralised.

Herefordshire Council has cut hundreds of jobs since 2010, reduced library and customer service opening hours and has had to trim its budget again this year to cope with another ‘tough’ central government settlement. Bus services and tourism support which are vital for our rural economy are losing financial support.

Britain’s wealth is now concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. This is unhealthy, and I don’t accept that we must grow the economy before we can share it out more fairly. Over 5 million people currently earn less than the living wage – the Green Party would raise the statutory minimum wage to a living wage and increase it to £10 per hour by 2020, alongside practical measures to support small businesses.

We will change the tax system so that the really wealthy pay more, and will make it far more difficult for individuals and corporations to avoid paying what they owe.

In thinking about the economy, we can’t sidestep another crucial question – our one planet cannot support continual material and economic growth. Sound economic planning must take this into account, and facilitate a transition to a society that lives within its means

Voting Green will say you want a secure, resilient economy that works for the common good.

Vote for what you believe in

Do you want to be represented in Parliament by someone forced to put party politics above our needs, including voting for brutal cuts to Herefordshire council?  This year you do have a choice – vote Green, for real change.

Austerity has created anxiety and insecurity, but we don’t have to accept this. Government shouldn’t use financial crises to undermine services and sell off our assets; the next parliament must re-balance the system to put nature and ordinary people before profit. Spending on people and wellbeing leads to happier healthier societies and is economically responsible.

Most politicians ignore the link between climate change and social issues. Only the Green Party is saying act now to protect the environment and create an economy that works for people, not just for big business.

Caroline Lucas, MP of the year in 2014, campaigned to tax casino banking, for reinstating the NHS, and to ban fracking. I share her values, and want to join her in Westminster to represent you and hold the next Government to account.

A vote for the Green Party next month says you care about your future, your children’s future, and the world we live in. We all share our one earth, and we have never been more interconnected.  Movement of people around the world greatly benefits Britain; we must understand the causes of immigration, and manage it in a responsible, compassionate way.

We’ve had limited choice at the ballot box in recent years, many people voting for the least bad option – and look where it got us last time! This year, vote Green – for reinvestment in health, housing and education, a reformed EU, and a more equal, peaceful world. Voting for what you believe in isn’t a waste. Add your voice to ours, and demand government that works for the common good.