News relating to all Herefordshire

Council pass Green Party motion on pension fund investments in fossil fuels

PRESS RELEASE

12 October 2018

Green Motion on reduction in fossil fuels investments successful

Herefordshire Green Councillors were delighted with the success of their motion to council today, which was passed almost unanimously with one abstention.

Councillor Trish Marsh, proposer of the motion, welcomed the gradual reduction in fossil fuel investments held by Worcestershire Pension Fund, which also manages the pensions of many public sector employees in Herefordshire. She called on Herefordshire Council representatives on the Worcestershire Local Government Pension Fund board to work with Worcestershire colleagues to seek alternatives to investments in fossil fuels.

The motion also urges the Fund to provide regular information on the results of their policy of engagement with their fossil fuel and other carbon intensive holdings; and to review their Statement of Investment principles and Responsible Investment principles in the next year, including undertaking a carbon risk audit.

Councillor Marsh said “Herefordshire Council has long held a commitment to reducing its own carbon impact and support county carbon reductions with partners. It has taken positive steps over the last decade, including introducing LED street lighting across the county, and installing PV panels on some publicly owned buildings, measures which have also led to significant financial savings.

We are pleased to have the support of other parties, including the Conservatives who seconded the motion, in taking the Council’s commitment to combat climate change another step forward. We welcome cross party working and are glad that other parties are seeing the value of green policies.”

The Motion as submitted to full Council meeting 12 October 2018:

Motion – Worcestershire Local Pension Board

(Proposed by Councillor PP Marsh, Seconded by Councillor tbc )

The Council welcomes the recent decision by several local authority funds, including Merseyside Pension Fund, to take practical steps to reduce their investments in fossil fuels.

We also welcome the powers now explicitly given by government for pension funds to take financially material considerations, including climate change, into account.

We note increasing evidence for change in demand for fossil fuels, such as Carbon Trackers’ ‘2020 Vison: why you should see the fossil fuel peak coming’, which will impact on share prices over the next decade and thus on returns to the fund.

Worcestershire Local Government Pension Fund is responsible for the pensions of Herefordshire Council employees and many other public sector employees. It has significant holdings in fossil fuels.

We call on our Herefordshire Council representatives on the Worcestershire Local Government Pension Fund board and committee to seek alternatives to investments in fossil fuels. In particular we ask them to push for the Fund to:-

  • provide regular information on the results of the Fund’s policy of engagement with its fossil fuel and other carbon intense holdings; and
  • overhaul their Statement of Investment principles and Responsible Investment principles in the next year, including undertaking a carbon risk audit.

Trish Marsh appears on BBC Sunday Politics Midlands

Trish appeared on the BBC Sunday Politics Midlands TV programme, on 7 October – watch here on BBC iPlayer.

(available until 3 November)

Discussion included:

Council house building – “make all new houses affordable to run by building to high energy efficiency standards”

Hospital services, A&E restricted opening hours – “Tory announcement that community hospitals are secure and should play a bigger role is great, but we need to have more integration between NHS and Social Services to reduce A&E attendances.”

Structure of Local Government – “whether we have a two-tier or a unitary structure as Herefordshire does, the main issue is the reduced funding available to local councils to deliver services”

 

Herefordshire Council votes unanimously for green vision!

Ellie Chowns wins cross-party support for proposal setting out green principles for £40 million investment

On 13 July 2018 Herefordshire County Councillors voted unanimously in favour of Ellie’s motion for a ‘Sustainable Development Partnership’. The decision shapes the strategic direction of £40 million of Council investment in new housing and industrial sites – the biggest item in the capital budget for the next two years. New buildings will have to be energy and water efficient, which will help make them more affordable. Residents will have access to green space, and developments will be ‘wildlife-friendly’. Local businesses will be prioritised for contracts, and walking, cycling, public transport and car-sharing will be encouraged. This is a significant win!

Ellie said: “This investment is a major opportunity to shape the strategic direction of the county, so we must make the best possible use of it. I’m delighted to get cross-party support for green principles to underpin the new development. I’ll be working hard to make sure these principles are now put into practice!

In moving the motion Ellie made the following points:

  • The motion was a cross-party initiative to help shape the direction of development in the The motion provided a framework for development to follow;
  • The motion built on an earlier motion to Council in 2014;
  • Consultation had been conducted with officers and other members; and
  • the inclusion of additional wording ‘…development designed and constructed through…’ in place of ‘…housing built through…’; and an additional bullet point, as follows: ‘designed to promote walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing.’

The motion as resolved:

Motion – Development Partnership
(Proposed by Councillor EE Chowns, Seconded by Councillor SP Anderson. )

Noting that Herefordshire Council has recently mobilised a large amount of capital from the sale of its farm estate, and plans to invest this in a ‘Development Partnership’ which will significantly shape the growth and development of the county, we call on the council to resolve:

That the Development Partnership should be designed to be a Sustainable Development Partnership, with equal consideration given to social, environmental, and economic dimensions of planned development.
That the executive be asked to consider ensuring that all development designed and constructed through the Development Partnership should be:
  • planned to maximise residents’ health and wellbeing, including through shared green space and opportunities for outdoor exercise and social interaction, with maintenance thereof;
  • built to the highest possible standards of energy and water efficiency in order to ensure affordability for residents and low environmental impact;
  • sourced using local procurement wherever possible, in order to maximise local economic benefit and employment opportunities;
  • designed to support and enhance wildlife habitats, in line with Herefordshire’s identity as a beautiful rural county; and
  • designed to promote walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing.

Trish Marsh takes over as Green Group Leader on Herefordshire Council

Herefordshire’s “outstanding” natural environment should be at the heart of its plans for the future says the new leader of the Green Party group on Herefordshire Council.

Councillor Trish Marsh is taking on the role while the current leader, Jenny Bartlett, serves as the Mayor of Leominster for the coming year.

“Jenny will be busy keeping up her council commitments plus the extra responsibility of being mayor so I am very happy to help by stepping in as Green group leader,” she said.

A former environmental team officer with Herefordshire Council, Trish Marsh is a member of Leominster Town Council and the Herefordshire councillor for Leominster South.

“My aim is to work hard for cross-party co-operation to get the best results for Herefordshire,” said Cllr Marsh, one of four Greens on the council. “We believe Herefordshire’s outstanding natural environment should be at the heart of the council’s long term vision and the county’s USP.

“We want to see social and environmental goals for our beautiful rural county included alongside and integrated with economic growth goals, not just mentioned in passing.

“On the question of how the council operates we need greater transparency, fewer cabinet diktats and the empowerment of ordinary ward councillors of all parties to enable them to do their jobs more effectively.”

Ellie Chowns councillor news 12 June 2018

Last week I spent half a day looking at road safety issues in the ward with Ian Connolly, who is the Traffic Management Advisor for the West Mercia Police Safer Roads Team.
Issues we discussed (with site visits) included:
1. Extending the Fromes Hill 40mph speed limit further west to the laybys – we did a site visit with Paul Hunter from Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP), and this is now going to be formally requested by the Parish Council. It will probably take the best part of a year to go through the full ‘Traffic Regulation Order’ (TRO) process, but at least the ball is now rolling formally.
2. Tackling speeding on the B4220 in Cradley. Ian is going to organise radar data collection on traffic speeds within the next three months. I’m going to talk to the Parish Councils in the ward about jointly requesting a Speed Indicator Device from BBLP, and sharing the costs.
3. Stopping vehicles going the wrong way down one-way Butchers Lane in Cradley, next to Pixiefields. There’s a real problem with vehicles dangerously driving the wrong way down this lane, which is very narrow, with no footway. Like the residents, I’m worried that this is an accident waiting to happen – and it will only get worse when more houses are built above Pixiefields. I’ve written to Balfour Beatty (the Council’s highways contractor) asking them to investigate the possibility of closing this off to vehicles altogether using bollards. Ian is also going to write to BBLP raising this as a road safety concern and requesting them to investigate possible solutions.
4. Addressing the problem of parking on the blind corner on the B4220 outside the surgery in Cradley. Ian suggested double yellow lines are needed here; the Parish Council has to make a request to Balfour Beatty for a TRO to do this, so I’ve asked the PC to take this forward.
5. Extending the 50mph speed limit on the A4103 between Stony Cross and the Red Lion and/or reducing the speed limit to 40mph at Stony Cross. Ian is going to talk to Simon Hobbs (the Senior Accident Investigation Engineer at Herefordshire Council) about this and will report back to me. Again, the Parish Council would have to make a request to Balfour Beatty for a TRO to do this.
6. Remodelling the A4103 / B4220 to Bromyard (Ridgeway Cross) junction. Ian agrees that it’s not ideal, but explained that unless it shows up as an accident ‘cluster site’ (which it currently doesn’t) it’ll be hard to get this prioritised. I explained that several local residents have contacted me with serious concerns about this location. Ian agreed to talk and formally write to Simon Hobbs noting this concern. I have asked Cradley & Storridge Parish Council to keep a record of any incidents at this junction (even if they don’t require police involvement) so that we can build a case for addressing this dangerous junction.
7. Addressing the problem of dangerous driving affecting horse riders in the Acton Beauchamp & Bishops Frome area. Ian gave me some useful advice which I have passed on to the concerned resident.
8. Addressing the problem of speeding traffic on the B4214 in Munderfield. Speed data is currently being collected here as part of a planning application (I think), so I’m going to see if I can get hold of it. If the Parish Councils can share a speed indicator sign, that would also help.
Altogether it was a very useful morning and I hope we’ll be able to make some real progress on tackling some of these road safety issues on behalf of residents.

Ellie Chowns – Councillor news 28 May

Last Friday’s Annual Meeting of Herefordshire Council (25 May 2018) approved various positive changes to the Constitution.

One very good set of changes will improve the process for public questions: the word limit per question has been doubled to 140, the six-questions-per-person-per-year limit has been changed to one-question-per-person-per-meeting, and responses to questions will now be provided in advance, making it easier to ask good supplementary questions.

Another positive change is the adoption of gender-neutral language throughout the constitution – it’s about time!

These and other changes were proposed by a cross-party working group which worked hard together in recent months to review the whole constitution. I’m grateful to them all for their efforts.

Two other very important changes were proposed last Friday as amendments by It’s Our County councillors (with Green support). One concerned the need to promptly publish full details of any code of conduct complaints against councillors that have been upheld after due process (including any appeal) i.e. including the name, nature of the breach, and any recommendation or sanction applied. This was passed unanimously, after some discussion. It’s important because, if there has been misconduct, voters need to know details about who and what. Under the earlier proposals, we’d only have received information about the number of complaints upheld per council.

The other amendment was about the need to hold Councillors to the same standards of transparency as officers. We think Councillors should declare what organisations they are members of; there shouldn’t be any secrecy. Greens supported IOC councillors in asking for a ‘recorded vote’ (which means each councillor’s vote is recorded individually) and the motion was passed with a good majority (although a number of Conservatives abstained or voted against).

Altogether these changes represent important steps forward. It’s been good to see effective cross-party working getting positive results like this!

28 March: Big Green Conversation “Being a Green Councillor in Herefordshire: The Inside Story”

At De Koffie Pot, Hereford. 7.30 to 9.30pm

Our four busy and effective Green Party county councillors will talk about life on the council. Come find out about how they are making Herefordshire Greener. Includes discussion about the local elections in May 2019 and getting more Green representation on the council.

 

Hereford Transport Package consultation – ending soon (20 March)

The consultation closes on Tuesday 20th March.

An exhibition of bypass routes and possible improvements to support for cycling, walking and public transport will be open at Hereford Library on Friday 16th, Saturday 17th and Monday 19th March

Background information about the Bypass, and an on-line consultation response form is on the Council website here.

If you are opposed to the bypass, which is the main part of this package, we ask that you consider carefully how to answer questions 2 and 3. There is a risk that if you answer “No Preference” to Q3, it will be taken to mean you are happy with any of the proposed routes.

If you do not think there should be a Western Bypass we suggest you may wish to complete the form as shown below.

Potholes and other road issues

Potholes and other road-related issues are high up my list of priorities at the moment, as residents often contact me about them. I have to admit I’m rather frustrated that we still don’t have a Balfour Beatty (BBLP) locality steward for the ward – I’ve got an ever-growing list of issues to take up with the new person as soon as s/he is in post, which BBLP assure me will be in mid-February. In fact, wouldn’t it be simpler all round if it was Council staff doing the work, rather than it being outsourced to BBLP? The collapse of Carillion has sparked a long-overdue debate about the pros and cons of contracting out; personally I’d much prefer the Council to be running its own highways services in-house, as I’m sure the extra layers of management and contract supervision mean that contracted-out highways services are more expensive and less responsive…

Anyway. One very practical and useful thing that we can all do is report potholes and other roads issues to the Council via this web page (which also shows you if it has already been reported). You can also use this pothole and road defect progress map to see which issues are currently being addressed. So please, if you notice a pothole, help us all out and report it online – and I’ll make it my business to chase BBLP up. Thank you!

Ellie Chowns – Budget concerns

My first full Council meeting was last Friday, and it had a full agenda: setting the 2018/19 budget (including the proposed 4.9% rise in Council Tax) and approving the Capital Programme, as well as approving the continuation of the Council Tax reduction scheme. I voted for the latter, but did not feel able to support the budget or the capital programme. On the budget, I appreciate that the Council is working within very tight financial constraints, and that officers are doing the best they can to ensure vital services are protected. But I just don’t believe that this Conservative council has fought hard enough against the swingeing cuts imposed by Conservatives in Westminster. The simple fact is that Council Tax is going up and up – even though wages are low and stagnating – because local authorities have been starved of funds by central government.

Regarding the capital investment programme, I have two major concerns. The first is that about £2.5m is being borrowed for initial work on building a bypass to the West of the city (I understand the full bypass scheme will cost much much more than this in total, potentially well over £100 million). Yes, Hereford has congestion problems – but in my view they are mainly due to people like me driving into town and trying to get from one side to the other to get to work, school, the shops, the hospital etc. A bypass won’t address this – and it especially won’t do anything to help those of us living to the East of the city. Instead, I feel the council should be investing much more money right now in sustainable transport, both a) within the city (e.g park and ride/bike/car-share) and b) in rural areas (e.g. using mobile tech to support community transport). That sort of thing will be cheaper and more effective, and I’m hoping to make links with people who can help make detailed proposals along these lines. By the way, the council will next week launch a consultation on the bypass plans. I’ll be going along and I encourage you to do so too, and have your say before it’s too late! (BTW, I’m not simply ‘anti-bypass’ – I think each case should be assessed on its own merits. My key objection here is that I haven’t seen any actual evidence making the case for a Western bypass).

My second major concern is the proposed £20 million earmarked this year for the Development Partnership. This is by far the largest chunk of the capital programme – a hell of a lot of money. Half of it will come from the sell-off of the council farms, and half from borrowing (but I have no idea why the council plans to borrow even more, when we’re due to get about £42 million from the farm sales…). I have lots and lots of questions about these plans, so I’ll be meeting some of the key officers this week to get more info. Investment in infrastructure and economic development is a good idea in principle, but the devil is in the detail. The recent Blueschool House fiasco highlights what can go wrong if contracts aren’t properly supervised. So, we need much more detail about the ‘Development Partnership’ will involve, proper analysis of the potential social, economic and environmental impacts, and assurance about financial safeguards. I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this going forward.

Highways – resurfacing woes, and safety improvements

I met the Head of Highways, Clive Hall, last Friday, which was very helpful. One of the things we talked about was learning lessons from the A4103 resurfacing road closures in autumn 2017. Clive explained some of the background (including the delays due to the unexpected General Election purdah period), and I made two main points:
1) Communication: This simply wasn’t good enough. There wasn’t enough consultation with residents in affected wards, and there wasn’t adequate real-time information available to travellers, neither online nor on the ground. Disruption was worse as a result.
2) Compensation: Individuals shouldn’t have to bear disproportionate costs for improvements that are for public benefit. Many business owners along the road suffered very significant financial losses during the closure, and haven’t had adequate compensation. Future compensation schemes need to be much better designed.

The stretch of A4103 from Newtown Cross to Hereford is also due for resurfacing later this year, and the council are currently consulting with affected people. Amazingly, they weren’t planning to consult with our ward! I made a very clear request that we should be consulted, as road closure in the Hereford direction will obviously have knock-on effects on the same businesses that already suffered last autumn. I’ll post that info separately. I very much hope that lessons will be learned from last year’s debacle, and that this year’s work will be much better organised.

Finally on roads, I met the council’s senior road safety investigator at Stoney Cross on Tuesday to discuss the planned works on the junction there. This has reached the top of the priority list due to a cluster of accidents in recent years, and so the planned works will straighten the road somewhat, prevent overtaking at the junction, and improve the camber. I’m glad to see that Cradley is getting this investment to improve safety at this junction; and I’m also glad that the works will be done with traffic lights and convoys, i.e. there will be no full road closure.

You can check on planned roadworks using this map: https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/…/2001…/roads/234/roadworks

Ellie Chowns – Councillor induction completed

Other news from the past week: I’ve completed my official induction – lots of useful briefing meetings with officers from all parts of the council, although rather surprisingly not with anyone from Highways, which is one of the issues that ward residents contact me about most often. So, I’ve arranged my own meeting with the head of Highways this coming Friday.
I’m very much hoping that Balfour Beatty will appoint a new Locality Steward for our ward ASAP (I do keep on asking them about this…) It’s somewhat frustrating that we don’t have one in place at the moment, as it makes it that bit harder to make progress on addressing some of the highways issues that are coming up.
Tomorrow I’ll be attending a lecture at the Hfds and Ludlow College on ‘Hospitals and home: Good health care in Herefordshire’ (part of my developing interest in social care), and then going to the Cradley Parish Council meeting. I’m looking forward to meeting all the newly-elected parish councillors, and very much hoping that the PC will be able to move forward all together, leaving past divisions behind.
Later in the week I’ll be attending the Adults and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee meeting (again, as an observer, part of learning more about the sector), and on Friday it’s my first full Council meeting. So there’s lots to read…

Ellie Chowns – thoughts on Hereford University

Today I went to a briefing on Hereford’s planned new University, www.nmite.org.uk, given by Prof Janusz Kozinski, the CEO. It’s an ambitious plan – to create a completely new, engineering-focused University, with a project-based, problem-solving approach to teaching and learning. As a University teacher myself (currently working at the Uni of Bath) there’s lots about the proposed approach that I find very exciting.

Prof Kozinski and team plan to recruit the first ‘Design Cohort’ of 25 students to start in October this year, with the aim of expanding to 1200 students and 110 staff by October 2022. The new Uni could have a significant impact on Hereford city in all sorts of ways – economically, culturally and demographically.


One thing I’m still a bit puzzled by, though, is what the real focus of the Uni will be. Prof Kozinski talked a lot about ‘humanist engineers’, and emphasised the four key curriculum themes: Feeding the World, Shaping the Future, Living in Harmony, and A Healthy Planet. It all sounds pretty good from a Green perspective, doesn’t it? But… it’s puzzling because when I’ve heard others talk about the new Uni (including senior local Conservatives) the emphasis has been all about servicing the ‘defence’ industry; and the two key corporate partners so far are Siemens and Qinetiq. I asked a question about this, and didn’t get as clear an answer as I’d like.


So, the new Uni is something I’m going to be taking a keen interest in going forward. I think it’s great that Hereford will be getting a University; other cities of similar size (e.g. Durham) or smaller (e.g. Warwick) have world-class universities, after all. And although I’m not an engineer myself, I do believe that technology can help solve many environmental and social challenges. I like the vision of ‘humanist engineering’; I just wonder whether funding and other pressures might push the new Uni in other directions. So, I’m going to be writing to Prof Kozinski with some more detailed questions, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on how the proposals for the new Hereford University evolve.

BTW, I’ve got an idea for a project the first lot of students could tackle: finding some way to keep the heat in the Shire Hall in the bottom 25% of the room, where the people actually are. It’s often freezing in there during our council meetings (today I got so cold I could barely type by the end) though I expect it’s baking up by the roof, with all the rising heat. I can’t help feeling it needs a layer of triple glazing part way up…

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

ELLIE wins Bishop’s Frome & Cradley by-election

A remarkable result, representing a 14% swing from the Conservatives who had held the seat in 2015 in a two way contest.

Ellie Chowns, Green Party: 471
Conservative: 299
Lib Dem: 251
Labour: 19

Herefordshire now has FOUR Green County councillors.

Reactions:

Caroline Lucas tweeted: Absolutely brilliant news! Huge congratulations to the wonderful Ellie Chowns who will make a fantastic Green councillor.
Jonathan Bartley: Fantastic result!

 

 

Natalie Bennett: Something to celebrate.

 

 

 

 Hereford Times coverage mentioned the support given by It’s Our County : The Greens gained a bonus in this month’s by-election when the It’s Our County party publicly came out in support of Dr Chowns and joined her campaign. “I would like to thank IOC for backing me – like-minded campaigners should work together whenever they can,” she said.

The Canary, reporting on Ellie’s victory said, amid the political shake up the Conservative Party suffered a major upset.”

Political Scrapbook said, “Theresa May will be turning green quicker than her party’s council seats this morning as she hears the news of another by-election defeat.

The Tories last night lost their 16th council by-election defence since June’s general election in particularly embarrassing circumstances.

The latest capitulation came in the Bishops Frome and Cradley ward of the North Herefordshire constituency”

Ellie’s by-election campaign underway

Ellie Chowns is our candidate in the Herefordshire Council by-election at Bishop’s Frome & Cradley on 23 November.

Ellie first contested the seat for the Greens in May 2015 as the sole challenger to the Conservatives. She said:

“I gained a very encouraging share of the vote in the last local election and people have been urging me to have another go, I am working hard to win, energized by the knowledge that the county’s Greens have been on a winning streak. Two of the three Green councillors on Herefordshire Council were elected with big majorities at by-elections.

“In my professional life I have been an advocate for the voiceless. I would love to put my skills to good use speaking up for the people Bishop’s Frome and Cradley as their local councillor.”

Ellie who is married with two teenage sons, has worked in education and charities, including senior roles with Christian Aid and Voluntary Service Overseas. Locally, she has been a primary school governor, a volunteer with HomeStart and ECHO Herefordshire and treasurer of a housing association.

CAN YOU HELP?

Ellie’s campaign is being organised by her agent, Mike Abbott of Bishop’s Frome (01531 640005, email abbott@living-wood.co.uk). Please contact Mike to offer help.

Alternatively get in touch with Ellie – tel 01531 670729, email ellie.chowns@gmail.com

Ellie Chowns to stand in Herefordshire Council by-election for Bishop’s Frome & Cradley Ward, November 23

The by-election follows the recent resignation of Conservative Councillor, Patricia Morgan.

Ellie’s message to all ward residents:

*I will back you up at every turn. I have the right skills to serve you well. I have over 20 years of experience in representing people whose voices were not heard when I worked for charities. Our area and its residents should no longer be ignored by our Hereford-centric Council. (The cost of the City Link Road across Hereford has risen from £27 million to £34 million, meanwhile, county services wither!)

* I can win this election. In May 2015 I stood here, in the local elections, as the sole challenger to the Conservative candidate and gained very encouraging vote; 1 resident in 3 voted for me. I have been very touched to receive many local messages of support urging me to “have another go” and I am delighted to accept the challenge. If elected, I will be joining the growing Green Party team on Herefordshire Council, two of whose members were first elected by large majorities in by-elections.

 * I am an independently minded politician. I will not be ‘whipped’ and will be able to vote with your interest in mind. If elected, I will join the (whip-free) Green Party Councillors who have earned a good reputation for working in a civil and co-operative manner and who do not shrink from holding the Council to account. They were the first to shine the spotlight on the appalling sell-off of the county-owned smallholdings and eviction of tenant farmers. The UK Information Commissioner found the Council ignored expert advice and concealed the information from the public.

*I have no vested interests other than those of a parent and rural resident who dearly wants to help protect and care for our beautiful county of Herefordshire .

I worked alongside Patricia Morgan as a Governor at Ashperton School and would like to wish her well and to pay credit to her personally and for her dedicated work as ward Councillor. Sadly, she was part of a Conservative administration that has let us down.

Local residents and business owners are rightly furious over the farce of the A4103 road closures. Coming so soon after the scandal of the £1 million overspend in refurbishing the Blueschool House council offices, it is further evidence that the Council needs to be held to account and hear the voices of all its residents.

If elected I pledge to work with all others of goodwill to provide a better choice in Local Government for the people of Herefordshire. In the meantime, I am very happy to hear from residents on local issues.

 

A4103 re-surfacing work: Letter to Tony Johnson, Herefordshire Council Leader

From Dr Ellie Chowns (Green Party),

Bishop’s Frome & Cradley Ward

16 October 2017

Dear Councillor Johnson,

Re: Road closures for resurfacing work on the A4103

I will shortly be a candidate in the Herefordshire Council by-election at Bishop’s Frome & Cradley and I have been busy talking to residents about their concerns. Without a doubt the most urgent issue affecting residents and businesses in the ward are the current full closures of stretches of the A4103.

There is a great deal of local dissatisfaction and much criticism of the way Herefordshire Council and its contractor has managed this programme.

Residents have been forced to drive many extra miles on long detours making local road conditions dangerous and chaotic. Local businesses, frequently cut off and marooned, have suffered substantial loss of income.

Residents and businesses are baffled as to why total road closure was deemed necessary over so much of the programme. Haphazard and misleading signage has increased problems – one business owner counted 14 ‘road closed’ signs along the A4103 between the Worcester roundabout and her business at Cradley when resurfacing work had been completed on that section. There appears to have been a lack of real consultation with the communities affected.

In the wake of the Blueschool House overspend controversy, it is quite clear your council needs to keep a firmer grip on the way it oversees contracts. Councillor Johnson, I would respectfully ask you to use your authority to intervene in the way the A4103 resurfacing work is being handled and take steps with the contractors to implement fairer and less fraught traffic handling over the remaining weeks.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Ellie Chowns

Greens progress in Golden Valley by-election

Jeremy Milln polled 10% of the vote in the 7th September by-election and came fourth, beating Labour. Conservatives slumped from 1364 votes in 2015 (66% of the vote) to 254 (24%).

Jeremy said,

“To everyone who voted (or considered voting) Green at the Golden Valley South by-election on the 7th September thank you. We did well, more than doubling the Green Party vote share since the June General Election (this constituency) beating Labour, whose share fell to less than half.

It’s a huge ward and slow going by foot and bicycle, so apologies to those whom I failed to meet. Cheers to everyone who I did, for my reception was always gracious and patient. The Green Party stands for fairness, neighbourliness and community; the ingredients of social justice. And also for intelligent stewardship of our environmental capital so that livelihoods may be sustained and the special qualities of this beautiful area are understood and cared for.

In Peter Jinman, an able representative on Hereford Council has been elected and am happy to congratulate him on the achievement. As an adviser to the present government Jinman apparently declined an approach to stand for the Conservatives, leaving us to wonder where, as an ‘Independent’, his leanings may lie. I urge him therefore to support the Green group on the Council and to allow its principles to guide his oversight of the Neighbourhood Plans produced recently by the four parish groups of the Ward.”

Full results:

Sept 2017

Peter Charles Jinman, Independent 462 votes

Cole, Simeon Wood Cole, Conservative 254 votes

Richard Baker Independent 152 votes

Jeremy James Milln, Green 109 votes

Anna-Maria Coda, Labour 104 votes

TOTAL VOTES CAST 1081, TURNOUT 40.5%

May 2015

Graham John Powell, Conservative 1364

Jessica Louise Smith, Green 357

Ellen Louise Pawley, Independent 351

TOTAL VOTES CAST 2072, TURNOUT 79% (coincided with General Election)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Greens win Leominster South with big majority

Trish Marsh has won the Leominster South seat on Herefordshire Council with a large majority over her nearest rival. Now holding three seats, the Greens are a bigger force than the Liberal Democrats in Herefordshire. With a reputation for hard work and positive ideas, the party is increasingly confident of further gains in Leominster, Hereford, and around the county.

Newly elected Trish Marsh said: ‘I am delighted to have gained the support of residents in Leominster South and pledge to do my best for them however they voted.’

‘I owe my victory to the good people of Leominster who wanted a local, hard working councillor. I would also like to thank my Green County Council colleagues Jenny Bartlett and Felicity Norman. Leominster voters recognise that when they elect Greens they elect people with a solid background in community action who make thorough and conscientious elected representatives.’

‘My campaign challenged Conservative-led Herefordshire Council’s wrong-headed priorities. Lots of voters told us they were fed up of crumbling roads and infrastructure and this is the clear message they have sent. I am determined to continue my campaign for a fair deal for Leominster as County Councillor.’

The by-election was caused by the death of long-serving Independent councillor Peter McCaull. The full results were: –

Trish Marsh (Green) 318 (41%)
John Stannard (IOC) 143 (18%)
Connor Egan (Con) 139 (18%)
Mark Latimer (Ind) 116 (15%)
Clive Thomas (LD) 54 (8%)

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