News relating to all Herefordshire

Make Votes Matter in Herefordshire

Following a well attended Big Green Conversation at Left Bank, a cross-party campaign group on proportional representation is being formed and it’s first meeting is on Monday 20th.

With 100,000 people now having signed the petition, this issue will now be debated in parliament. We want to raise awareness of this in Herefordshire, and make the link between a fairer voting system and things voters care about such as a better NHS, action on air quality and schools funding. Bring your ideas and enthusiasm to help us make votes matter!

The meeting details are as follows:

Monday 20th March
7:30 – 9:00 pm
De Koffie Pot (upstairs), Bridge Street,
Hereford, Herefordshire

Check out Make Votes Matter news on this site, and on Facebook. To join the group, contact co-ordinator Natalia Waring or message the group on Facebook.

Herefordshire business to benefit from energy efficiency grant

A Herefordshire business has benefited from the first Business Energy Efficiency Programme, set up to help lower running costs and promote energy efficiency.

Caplor Energy, based in Fownhope, is the first business in the county to be awarded the grant. The company was awarded £12,236 for an innovative energy storage project to capture energy from its solar panels.

Read the full story on the Council website.

Photo (c) Howard Willson

Hereford Community Land Trust

The Hereford Community Land Trust was formed in 2016 and is part of a national network of local Land Trusts. We are actively seeking more members who have an interest in local affordable homes for others in the city or for themselves. It is important that we build up membership to give weight to the case for development of high quality community provision that can truly be afforded by all. Lifetime membership can be secured as either Full or County members for a payment of £5. The following is a summary of what the Trust seeks to achieve.

What is a Community Land Trust?

A CLT is a non-profit community-based organisation, run essentially by its members, which acquires and holds land on which the CLT’s specified objectives are carried out. Most CLTs develop and own ‘permanently affordable’ housing, possibly with other assets such as workspaces, open spaces and community facilities, which together meet the needs of the community.

Land is held in perpetuity and once built, properties are protected from fluctuations in land market valuations by a legal ‘asset lock’ that is a fundamental part of all CLT structures: assets can only ever be sold or developed in a manner which benefits the local community. Should the CLT go out of business, the land has to be passed on to another organisation with similar objectives

What exactly is HCLTs Mission?

Our central mission is to provide low-cost, high-quality homes for sale or rent to local people in the Hereford area and surrounds. Following pathways developed by CLTs elsewhere, our aim is for these to be designed with community input to be energy-efficient and low-carbon, built with locally sourced materials and skills in a sustainable setting that includes food production, renewable energy, waste management, and all that is necessary for a healthy, balanced community. Clearly, for homes to be affordable compromises in some areas may have to be considered.

The intention is to provide as many units as possible that are genuinely affordable  to buy or rent or some combination of the two.  Because of being built to a high standard of insulation they should also be economical to heat. This will almost certainly entail building some homes for market sale so as to help cross-subsidise any development. We anticipate there will be scope for self-build or self-finish options, and for providing or managing community facilities such as open spaces and allotments. All assets will be retained in community ownership in perpetuity.

Why Join?

Someone may wish to support provision of affordable housing in the Hereford area as a matter of principle, or may want affordable housing for themselves or for people they know. They may have an interest in the built environment and wish to get involved with a lively and co-operative group of people aiming to establish something better than profit-driven ‘dormitory’ development. Or they may feel that housing nationally is in crisis and would like to help see the problem addressed locally through community-led approaches.

Whatever the motivations, we encourage those who meet the membership criteria (see below) to join HCLT, so the group can benefit from their ideas and skills, and can demonstrate widespread community support.

Who Can Join?

Anyone who lives, works (paid or unpaid) or studies in Hereford, or lives elsewhere but is actively involved in Hereford community events, and is aged 16 or over, is welcome to become a member of HCLT on condition that they support its stated aims and values, and pay a one-off fee of £5. “County” membership is also available for those simply wishing to support the Trust’s objectives.

Further information :

https://www.facebook.com/HerefordCLT/

www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk

Email:  herefordclt@gmail.com

 

Council leaving towns and parishes “in limbo” say Greens

The Green Party has accused the Conservative leaders of Herefordshire Council of leaving towns and parishes “in limbo” after blocking a Green move to ease a parish-level funding crisis.

The council approved a 1.9 per cent increase in council tax  (on 3.2.17) but rejected a budget amendment by Green group leader Jenny Bartlett to raise the figure to 1.99 per cent. The increase would still have been within the Government 2 per cent limit without triggering a county referendum.

“Financial cutbacks are damaging the ability of town and parish councils to take on and run services as now expected of them under the localism agenda,” said Councillor Bartlett. “Herefordshire Council’s Tory leadership has left them in limbo.

“My proposal would have raised £80,000 for a pot of money to fund parish-level projects – a modest sum but a step in the right direction.

“It was in no way intended to replace the parish grant withdrawn by Herefordshire Council. Leominster Town Council had £43,000 taken away by the loss of its grant – a measure of how much the parishes are hurting at a time when they are having to take on extra responsibilities.”

Cllr Bartlett accused Conservative councillors of failing to read the details and dismissing out-of-hand her proposal for a ‘spend-to-save bridge to enable service transformation.’

“While £80,000 could be said to be a ‘drop in the ocean’ in terms of Herefordshire Council’s spending that is not so at parish level,” said Cllr Bartlett,

“The ability to access additional small funds for specific projects can make all the difference. At parish level residents can see the impact of that money and the benefits to their community that result.

“Increasingly parishes are working together to pool resources to save services such as buses. For example Bodenham, Stoke Prior Group Parish, Leominster Town Council and Community Wheels have replaced the withdrawn 427 public bus with a community mini bus.

“The 490 bus from Leominster to Ludlow is now supported by all the parishes along its route and recently attracted inward investment from Ludlow Town Council which recognised the economic and social value of a vital link.”

Cllr Bartlett added: “The Greens are appealing to the council leaders for common sense. Services are being cut now, parishes are hurting now – now is the time to act while communal infrastructure is still intact.”

 

Pollution levels in Lugg at unacceptable levels and agencies complacent

Green Party Councillors have asked Herefordshire Council to look into pollution levels in the Upper Lugg river, where average levels of phosphates are seven times the limits set by the Environment Agency.

‘This is incredibly worrying,’ said Felicity Norman. ‘Such a serious breach of acceptable pollution levels could have a massive impact on future development and tourism, not to mention river ecology.’

She has written to the Chair of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee suggesting that the Environment Agency, Natural England and local authorities are complacent. She has asked that these organisations, along with the Wye and Usk Foundation, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and other expert groups, are brought together with the Council to devise an urgent action plan.

Councillor Norman has also raised concerns about intensive livestock units and how they are monitored. She thinks that the management of waste and cleaning operations may be part of the problem.

Councillor Norman has already raised the risk to the Council’s future plans should the pollution not be tackled and reduced, asking that the river be put on the Council’s At Risk register.

She has already raised the issue on several occasions but nothing is yet being done.(2)

Leader of the Green Group Cllr. Jenny Bartlett added: ‘The data shows that phosphate levels are way too high. This should be of concern to anyone with a tourism business and anyone who wants to protect our precious countryside. We will continue to press for the Council to take this issue seriously.’

 

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.

Motorway through Hereford?

Marches LEP and Herefordshire Council are pressing ahead with their scheme to build Hereford’s north-south bypass, including a new crossing of the river Wye to the west of the city. They applied to the Department for Transport for funding (c £1.9m) to help develop the Outline Business Case and the planning application. The application documents are publicly available, so we reviewed them and wrote to DfT prior to the Autumn Statement to ask that they refuse the application for funding. We said:

  • The claimed benefits for the Bypass are overstated and unsubstantiated, in some cases illusory;
  • None of the many negative impacts are mentioned;
  • The letters of support from several other local authorities and enterprise partnerships are too similar to have been written independently
  • The evidence base is mostly made up of documents produced by the LEP, Herefordshire Council or by their consultants, with little or no outside scrutiny or independent evaluation.

We were particularly concerned to see in the application, claims that the bypass will “reinforce the importance of the A49”, allowing it to act as a sort of relief road for the increasingly congested M5/M6, and to become a major artery for traffic between north and south Wales. If this were to happen it would mean villages and settlements alongside the A49, both north and south of Hereford, would be subjected to more traffic – on a single carriageway trunk road that already has dangerous bends and junctions and an unenviable accident record. It is evident that there has been no consultation on this point with communities likely to be affected.

At the time of writing we don’t know if or when the requested funding will be provided – DfT’s list of successful schemes published after the Autumn Statement thankfully did not include the Hereford Bypass. But we don’t expect those pushing for this hugely expensive and damaging road to give up at the first attempt!

Four more councils vote against fracking

Opponents of shale gas in the west country are celebrating a series of recent council votes against fracking.

In the past fortnight, Conservative-controlled Gloucestershire and Herefordshire County Councils have backed anti-fracking motions while Forest of Dean District and Watchet Town Councils have declared themselves Frack Free Zones.

Read a full report here.

Greengage changes

We are changing the way we keep you up to date with green news and coming events. A regular ‘e-Greengage’ email update will be sent periodically, and readers can also sign up for daily updates, when news is published on the website.

The two Herefordshire constituency parties are also joining forces with one website and one Facebook page, so we hope this will make Green news easier to access. We will continue as two separate constituency parties, but work together closely, sharing ideas and resources.

Council vote against fracking, sort of

A dozen anti-fracking campaigners welcomed councillors attending the full Council meeting at Shire Hall on Friday (16th December), when a Motion on fracking in the County was to be considered. After a short debate, Council voted unanimously to adopt the Motion introduced by Kerne Bridge Councillor Paul Newman

“The Executive be asked to consider the risks of hydraulic fracturing, and the high importance of tourism income to this County and to write accordingly to the Secretary of State to ask the Government to consider withholding any licence which would allow fracking and any associated hydrocarbon extraction processes in or under Herefordshire’s vitally important Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

As expected, the debate focused mostly on the local rather than wider impacts of fracking, with one contributor saying that other areas of the country not as blessed with natural beauty as Herefordshire ought to be the places where fracking is introduced.

An amendment tabled by Green Councillor Felicity Norman asking for the Motion to cover all of Herefordshire and not just the County’s AONBs was defeated.

It is worth noting that legislation passed at Westminster last December already prevents fracking operations on the surface in a National Park or AONB. What that legislation doesn’t restrict are

  • Fracking operations outside but adjacent to the AONB which use horizontal drilling to reach under the AONB
  • Full visibility from within the AONB of fracking rigs in the vicinity
  • Heavy road traffic from fracking operations using roads within the AONB
  • Any extraction process for Coal Bed Methane which does not use fracking

The latter point means that should a company take up the licences for Herefordshire and find it is possible to extract coal bed methane without the expense of high volume fracking, they are not prevented from setting up operations inside the Wye Valley AONB, subject to planning permission.

However, on the subject of planning permission for fracking, this government has already shown In Lancashire that it is prepared to overturn local council decisions to refuse. Should the lapsed licences for fracking in Herefordshire be re-issued to another company, we are still very much at risk.

The Hereford Times report can be viewed here

Let Council know we don’t want fracking here

Herefordshire Council are meeting this Friday 16 December at 9.30 am to consider fracking in the county. There will be a peaceful anti-fracking presence outside Shire Hall from 9am, to show councillors that people care about protecting the county’s environment – and its tourist industry!

This is due to a motion tabled by Conservative Kerne Bridge Councillor Paul Newman. The motion is not as strong as we would like, as it only refers to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and recommends ‘considering the risks’ rather than saying no to fracking in principle, because the risks are well known. Nevertheless, the debate and decision are important. It may identify councillors, including those from the governing Conservative group such as Paul Newman, who are opposed to fracking, and it could support our campaign to keep it out of Herefordshire. A strong vote against fracking would also put Herefordshire in line with Gloucestershire which recently voted against (although Conservatives abstained!)

The motion for Friday states: –

“I therefore call upon this Council to resolve that: The Executive be asked to consider the risks of hydraulic fracturing, and the high importance of tourism income to this County and to write accordingly to the Secretary of State to ask the Government to consider withholding any licence which would allow fracking and any associated hydrocarbon extraction processes in or under Herefordshire’s vitally important Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

Please join us if you can at 9am outside Shire Hall to show councillors arriving for the meeting that keep Herefordshire frack-free matters to local people.

Avoid A&E say hospital

The Hereford Times is reporting today that those with minor ailments should not attend A&E in Hereford.

During the last few days the emergency department at Hereford County Hospital has seen a spike in the number of patients treated and admitted with hip fractures, respiratory conditions and cardiac problems.

People with injuries and conditions which are not serious are advised to use alternatives – such as calling NHS 111, using the GP walk in centre in Hereford, the Minor Injury Units at Ross and Leominster Community Hospitals, seeing their local GP or seeking advice from their local pharmacy.

A spokesperson for Herefordshire Greens said: ‘Don’t go to Hereford A&E with minor ailments, fair enough, but please, Jesse Norman Conservatives, stop your wasteful privatisation agenda, and fund our NHS properly with taxes raised from those who can well afford to pay. This isn’t fair on the dedicated staff or the patients. We are a rich country still, and can afford it. It is simply a matter of priorities.’

The full article from the Hereford Times can be read here.

Skill Up!

As we move into 2017, a two year run up to winning more seats in local elections in May 2019, and a possible early general election, we urgently need to think about skilling-up our members and building an organised and effective campaign team.
So let’s start the new year as we mean to go on with a large Herefordshire contingent to the West Midlands Regional Conference on January 7th, which will be at the Priory Rooms in Birmingham City Centre 10am-5.15pm. This is the training and networking event of the year in the West Midlands, and is a fantastic opportunity to skill-up members and volunteers.
There are some great training sessions lined up, covering issues such as engaging more members and volunteers, producing engaging newsletters, and crafting election-winning messages.
It’s also a chance to inspire newer or less active members to get more involved. There is a session with our fantastic West Mids Mayoral candidate James Burn, and Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack is a special guest speaker.
Entry to this event is at the bargain price of £8 on the door, or £6 if people pay in advance via paypal. Those on low or no incomes can book the bursary fund rate, which is free.
Donations above the cost of the ticket are gladly accepted in order to help cover costs and contribute to the bursary fund. Whichever attendees decide to do, we’re still asking people to register in advance so we have an idea of numbers.
Members should register using the booking link. Any problems please get in touch: julien.pritchard@greenparty.org.uk. And if you do register, let Herefordshire branch know too – we might be able to share travel or sit together on the train!

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.’

 

 

 

West Mids Green Party Regional Conference

Politics can feel a pretty scary place right now – but what better way to be part of the positive fightback than to come to the West Midlands Green Party Conference on 7th January 2017?

After a challenging, but nonetheless successful, 2016 for the Green Party in the West Midlands, we’re looking ahead and preparing for greater success in 2017.

So come and join us at the West Mids Regional Conference!

The event is at the Priory Rooms in Birmingham City Centre, starting at 10am and finishing at 5.15pm. We have a great agenda lined up, including some fantastic expert training sessions. There’ll be a chance to hear how our priority campaigns are working hard to make gains in May, and hear all about our exciting West Midlands Mayoral campaign from Mayoral Candidate James BurnWe’ve also got a special guest speaker, with Deputy Green Party Leader Amelia Womack joining us.

In addition there will be lots of opportunities to network and share ideas with fellow party members and campaigners throughout the day.

Don’t miss out on what is the training and networking event of the year in the West Midlands.

Entry to this event is at the bargain price of £8 on the door, or £6 if you pay in advance via paypal. Those on low or no incomes can book the bursary fund rate, which is free.

We will of course gladly accept donations above the cost of the ticket, to help cover costs and contribute to the bursary fund. Whichever you decide to do, please still register in advance so we have an idea of numbers.

Please register using the booking link. Any problems please get in touch: julien.pritchard@greenparty.org.uk

Hope you can join us on 7th January!

Event | 23rd Nov | R4H | Has Britain lost the art of joined up transport planning?

Professor John Whitelegg of the Stockholm Environment Institute, and former Green Party councillor in Lancaster, will be addressing the lack of transport planning in the UK and the impact on sustainability as well as efficiency at a meeting organised by Rail and Bus for Herefordshire.

The meeting takes place at 2pm on Wednesday 23rd November at the Merton Hotel, Commercial Road, Hereford. All welcome. For full details contact Gareth Davies (Chair) on 01531 633594.

Progress in the Bus Services Bill

The Bus Services Bill continues its journey through the House of Lords: the next reading will be on 23rd November, before the Bill moves to the House of Commons. We are thrilled that the Lords successfully passed an amendment which would make franchising powers automatically available *everywhere*, not just in cities with an elected Mayor.

But the Government have made clear they want to remove this amendment, and it risks being struck out by MPs.

Ask our MPs to support Bus Services Bill powers *everywhere*

The good news is that the Bill is already primed to improve bus services. Firstly, for the first time, it’s mandating that all new buses are ‘Talking Buses’, fitted with audio-visual information systems. This is a huge win for blind and visually impaired passengers everywhere. Rachel Kitchin from the Guidedogs campaign team blogs about how their relentless campaigning won the day.

Tell Campaign for Better Transport your bus stories!

Bus users have been telling the Campaign for Better Transport – and their MPs- how important bus services are to them. These stories show how valued buses are to every aspect of life.

“I use buses to get to meetings which aren’t on the train line, so buses are important for my business”

“The bus cuts are so bad that I am considering getting a car again, and I am sure that others are considering the same thing. This will result in increased carbon emissions and increased traffic”

The Campaigns is asking bus users across the county to let them know how important the bus is to them, and of threats to cut services in their area. This will inform their campaigning and help promote buses to MPs and government.

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