News from Hereford & South Herefordshire constituency and council ward areas

It’s Christmas: a cycle network for Hereford?

Crowds at Hereford’s Castle Green Christmas Fair voted overwhelmingly to spend Santa’s £1,000,000 gift to Hereford on a comprehensive cycle network to reduce the city’s traffic delays and make roads safer, especially for children. Research suggests that school traffic is a major factor in rush hour congestion, so safe cycle networks would make a massive difference for a fraction of the cost and with no environmental damage.

It should be pointed out that Santa, like much political debate at the moment, is fictional (ssshhh, don’t tell the adults), and Hereford has not, in fact, been given a million to spend, although even more oddly the Council are pressing ahead with a short road to the south of Hereford for many times that cost which their own research tells them will do nothing to help congestion in the city.

The opinion poll was carried out at the Green Party stall at the popular annual event, with Christmas revellers voting with baubles for one of three options: a park and ride, a cycle network, or one twenty-third of a bypass. Actually, £1,000,000 will buy even less than this. They were also invited to create a paper Christmas bauble to hang on a Christmas Tree card on which was a message for 2017 to Jesse Norman MP. The tree will be presented to Mr. Norman by Green Parliamentary Spokesperson Diana Toynbee. Message ranged from ‘stop fracking’ (Norman is an Energy Minister and voted in favour – South Herefordshire is in the firing line) to ‘Fair Votes in 2017’ and several asking him to prioritise the natural environment we depend on, and stop Tory cuts to vital services.

Green Spokesperson Rob Hattersley said: ‘It was great so many people wanting Greens to do well in Hereford, and a general feeling that now is the time to engage with politics, not the time to withdraw. It was encouraging too to meet supporters from other parties keen for progressives to work together, on the day when Green co-leader Caroline Lucas campaigns with the Lib Dems in Richmond.’

 

 

 

Shale fracking affects house prices, health and environment, but government don’t want you to know

Of interest to those attending last night’s Big Green Conversation on Fracking, The Guardian reports this morning that Ministers deliberately delayed a report showing fracking could affect house prices, health and the environment until after a crucial planning decision.

Mystery of the disappearing PC World bike racks

Hereford Green Party have asked PC World why the bike racks have disappeared from outside their store.

‘We are sure sure PCWorld want to play their part in reducing congestion and pollution, so we are mystified as to why the racks have gone, quite apart from the fact that if cycling customers cannot park their bikes securely they will shop elsewhere’, said Rob Hattersley from Hereford Greens.

‘It’s really important for customers to know there is somewhere safe and secure for their bikes, or they will simply drive and add to Hereford’s traffic problem’, Rob, a keen cyclist but also a driver, added. ‘A kind PCWorld assistant allowed me to leave my bike inside the store on this occasion! Actually, biking from home right to the till inside was kind of ideal, but that’s not the point!.

 

Big Green Conversation for Jan 2017: Make Votes Matter

The Big Green Conversation is switching to the 4th Wednesday each month from January 2017. We’re looking forward to welcoming KLINA JORDAN from Make Votes Matter – the fair votes campaign – to lead a discussion on why we need electoral reform in order to change anything else.

We will also look at how to make the link between fair votes and everyday concerns, and reduce the confusion about the different PR systems the UK could and does already use. Come along and learn enough to impress your friends with your encyclopaedic knowledge of different voting systems!

So that’s at De Koffie Pot, Left Bank Hereford, 7pm for 7.30pm on WEDNESDAY 25h January.

thumbnail of bgc6-makevotesmattersocial
Download the graphic here

Big Green Drinks

Our fifth Big Green Conversation is simply ‘Big Green Drinks’! Take a break from the Christmas madness and come down to De Koffie Pot to review a turbulent political year and toast a more progressive 2017. Thurs 22nd Dec from 7.30pm.

Remember, from January, Big Green Conversations will be every fourth WEDNESDAY. First up: Fair Vote before Fair Society when we will be welcoming a speaker from Make Votes Matter.

Download the poster here: BGC: Make Votes Matter

BGC on Thursday 24th: Fracking the shire

A reminder that ‘Fracking the Shire’ is the title of our Big Green Conversation at De Koffie Pot on Thursday 24th November, 7pm for 7.30pm. Come along to find out what the fuss is about, what’s going on globally, and how it could affect Herefordshire specifically.

We are trying this event without the complication of Eventbrite – just turn up. But if you use Facebook please do click ‘Going’ and share the event as this really helps us to spread the word.

All welcome – please invite family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. If you can, download and email this poster around – or print and display!

Talk Shop: Brexit – what EU links do we want?

The topic of the next De Koffie Pot Talk Shop is ‘Brexit – what EU links to we want?’ on Thursday, 1st December from 7.30-10pm.

Talk Shop are monthly politics and ethics discussions presented by Perry Walker and Left Bank at De De Koffie Pot, Left Bank, Bridge Street, Hereford HR4 9DG. All welcome.

What deal with the EU do we want? What can we get?

There is no charge, and refreshments including local ales and ciders, pie minister pies and scotch eggs are available downstairs in De Koffie Pot cafe during the break.

For more information, phone 07858 750936 or email Perry@openupuk.org.

Talk Shop is an independent initiative and is not organised by the Green Party, however it does form part of weekly politics and ethics nights of which our own Big Green Conversation is a part. The next BGC is this Thursday 24th, 7 for 7.30pm, on the topic of fracking.

Could Hereford’s M&S close?

The Hereford Times is reporting that Hereford Marks and Spencer could be closing after the high street retailer announced it is going to close 30 of its larger stores.

National newspapers have quoted experts at the Local Data Company, who have compiled a list of areas that it thinks are vulnerable. Hereford’s branch in High Town, which sells clothes, homeware and food, is included in this list but this has not been confirmed by M&S.

Read the full report at Hereford Times.

Event | 24 Nov | BGC | Fracking the Shire

‘Fracking the Shire’ is the title of our next Big Green Conversation at De Koffie Pot on Thursday 24th November, 7pm for 7.30pm. Come along to find out what the fuss is about, what’s going on globally, and how it could affect Herefordshire specifically.

We are trying this event without the complication of Eventbrite – just turn up. But if you use Facebook please do click ‘Going’ and share the event as this really helps us to spread the word.

All welcome – please invite family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. If you can, download and email this poster around – or print and display!

Hereford MP Norman wants to frack

Hereford MP Jesse Norman has criticised Labour for saying it would ban fracking.

A Hereford Green spokesperson said: ‘Jesse Norman may find it interesting explaining his love of fracking to residents of South Herefordshire as they worry about falling house prices, polluted water supplies, earthquakes and damage to our tourist industry if the frackers are allowed to do their dirty work here in the beautiful Wye Valley. Why is he not putting all his effort into developing our renewables industry instead?’

Green MP Caroline Lucas welcomed Labour’s opposition to fracking but challenged them to oppose Hinkley too.

The Green Party believes that climate change is such an emergency that we have no time to use fossil fuel such as shale gas even to ‘transition’ to greener technology, and that this is a dangerous distraction.

All investment should be in renewable energy which would not only protect water supplies, the wider environment and our tourist industry, but would create local jobs too.

Read the full report from the BBC.

Jesse Norman MP meets Greens to discuss energy

In July, Jesse Norman was appointed to a junior ministerial post (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. His energy responsibilities are Nuclear and Oil & Gas including shale gas.  Soon after his appointment,  we contacted him to seek a meeting, intending to discuss the Hinkley Point decision, and fracking, among other issues.

We met him just after Hinkley Point was given the go ahead and shared our views on fracking, managing energy demand, the transport sector, home insulation, ratification of the Paris Agreement (COP21) and the extent to which government should directly manage the UK’s low carbon transition.  Unsurprisingly, there are still considerable differences between his position and ours, but it was a nonetheless a useful meeting.

Serious flaws in Herefordshire Council’s Local Transport Plan consultation

Herefordshire Council is currently consulting residents on its ‘Local Transport Plan 4’ which will have effect from 2016 to 2031. Local authorities are required by the Local Transport Act of 2008 to have a local transport plan.

Hereford Green Party believes that this consultation has been made so complicated and difficult to use that very few people in Herefordshire will be bothered to respond, or will be able to make meaningful comments.

When the Council Overview & Scrutiny Committee discussed an interim report from officers about the consultation on 19 January, they heard that only 154 people had responded since early December.

The Council consultation webpage lists a total of 16 long documents as ‘policy’, ‘evidence’ or ‘related pages’. In total several hundred pages. Poor broadband connections will make it virtually impossible for many people to read these background documents.

The consultation survey asks only 15 questions about the new Policy and six about the Environmental Assessment. The questions in the survey are too narrow, and don’t invite comments or constructive criticism. The big assumptions in the proposed plan – notably the Southern Link Road and the Hereford Relief Road – are not open for discussion.

Completing the survey on-line is unsatisfactory. There is no way to go back to earlier pages, or to save partial input in order to research other materials. There are no links in the survey form to any of the evidence, making it difficult for the respondent to research anything on which questions are being asked.

There should be a clear statement listing what is being changed in LTP4 compared with the previous plan, LTP3. Ordinary members of the public are not going to spend their time comparing two 40 page documents.

It is also very concerning that the on-line survey itself is insecure – it is a simple matter to submit multiple responses. Furthermore, respondents are not required to give their names or where they live.
In contrast, comments on planning applications are not accepted without a name and address. People submitting petitions to the Council have to prove their supporters are real (or at least show they have collected names, signatures and postcodes).

Hereford Greens Spokesperson Rob Palgrave said,” The Council expects to use the results of this consultation exercise to show it has support for its new Transport Plan. The flaws in the on-line system and the poor response levels suggest that any mandate they get will be of very dubious value.”

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.
Diana on sustrans bridge

Best Green vote ever in 2015

GREENS in Herefordshire made significant progress in the May 2015 General Election, not only saving their deposits for the first time, but with South Herefordshire boasting the highest percentage Green vote in the West Midlands region.

The full results were as follows:-

Herefordshire North result: Daisy Blench (Green) 3,341. Jeanie Falconer (Lib Dem)5,768. Jonathan Oakton (UKIP) 6,720. Sally Prentice (Labour) 5,478. Bill Wiggin (Conservative) 26,716. 

Hereford and south Herefordshire results. Jesse Norman (Conservative) 24,844; Nigel Ely (UKIP) 7,954; Anna Coda (Labour) 6,042; Lucy Hurds (Lib Dem) 5,002; Diana Toynbee (Green) 3,415

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!

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