Comment and editorial pieces

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.

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