News relating to all Herefordshire

Greens campaign to keep two MPs for Herefordshire

Greens have called on the Boundary Commission to keep two MPs for Herefordshire, rather than splitting the county into three. Current proposals for new, larger constituencies mean North Herefordshire faces major changes. Some voters will be moved to Hereford & South Herefordshire, some will become part of a new ‘Ludlow and Leominster’ constituency, and others will find themselves sharing an MP with parts of Worcestershire in a new ‘Malvern and Ledbury’ constituency.  Having analysed the proposals in depth, Herefordshire Greens believe that the changes are harmful to Herefordshire and there are better alternatives.

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has been required by the government to make proposals to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, and to make the size of constituencies more equal across the whole country.   They are currently consulting on their proposals.  The Greens strongly support the idea that everyone’s vote should have equal weight, but are concerned that the current proposals for Herefordshire don’t give enough consideration to some key factors, including county boundaries, the geographical size, the small population and rural nature of Herefordshire.  These are all factors which the BCE says it wants to take into account.

Herefordshire Greens’ alternative proposal put forward to BCE is that every voter in the county should continue to be in one of two constituencies – the North or the South.  While both constituencies have to expand in order to meet the minimum size requirements, this can be done very easily. Just one ward needs to move from North Herefordshire to the Hereford & South Herefordshire constituency to make it big enough, and the North Herefordshire constituency could be expanded to meet the minimum size requirement by including some wards from northwestern Malvern Hills District.

Felicity Norman, Chair of North Herefordshire Green Party said, “It simply doesn’t make sense for our county to be split into three constituencies when it has fewer electors than are needed for two.  The Boundary Commission is proposing changes for us that are more significant than for any other area in the West Midlands, and which mean that the interests of Shropshire and Worcestershire would dominate over those of North Herefordshire for the new MPs.  We think Herefordshire needs two MPs that pay proper attention to Herefordshire issues!”

These boundary changes do not change the first-past-the-post electoral system, which determines who sits as an MP. “We are not against electoral reform – quite the opposite,” said Diana Toynbee, prospective Green Party parliamentary candidate for Hereford. “The Brexit referendum result showed that many people in this country feel that their voices are not heard in parliament. It’s scandalous that under our first-past-the-post system, parties which get millions of votes can end up with virtually no MPs. We are being governed by a party which only 24% of the electorate voted for. Tinkering with electoral boundaries is a waste of time while the basic system is so badly flawed.”

The Green Party is calling for a complete overhaul of the UK’s unfair electoral system, including the introduction of proportional representation so that parliament accurately reflects the votes cast by the electorate, a position with which the Liberal Democrats and many in Labour agree.

The Party has also long campaigned for an elected and smaller House of Lords and an end to the appointment of Lords by the Prime Minister (In his two terms as Prime Minister, David Cameron created over a hundred new peers, taking the total to over 800)

Herefordshire Greens welcome global peace campaigner on eve of historic UN vote to ban nuclear weapons

REBECCA Johnson, prominent global peace campaigner, was in Hereford on Tuesday last week to talk on ‘peace-building through non-violent action and treaty-making’ for the Millichap Peace Fund. Her visit came just days before the United Nations was due to vote on whether to start negotiations next year to prohibit nuclear weapons.

She said ‘I’m delighted to be back in beautiful Hereford, and to discuss peace at such a crucial time in history. I’ve come straight here from the discussions at the UN in New York. Sadly the UK, and in particular this government, is out of step with the rest of the world on this, and is pressurising other countries to vote no, but I’m optimistic’.

Read the full report from the Hereford Times.

Student Infofest

Infofest at the Colleges in Hereford gave us an opportunity to run a stall at which we encouraged students to register to vote and to start thinking about politics and what the Green Party stands for. About a dozen were interested enough to leave their contact details and we will be following up with them to see if they can be persuaded to build a greater Young Greens presence in the county.

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.

Save our council farms

Herefordshire Green Party councillors have criticised the way in which Herefordshire Council is handling the sell-off of the County estate, which was agreed in December, and have called for notices to quit to a group of tenants to be withdrawn. The Greens say a clear plan of action should have been drawn up, and a timetable agreed and discussed with the tenants and their representatives.

Councillor Jenny Bartlett said: “We believe that an opportunity was missed to look at more creative ways of running the County estate, which had been badly neglected for many years. The decision was made with no real consideration of the options put forward by the General Overview and Scrutiny Committee (GOSC) working group, of which I was a member.

“Given GOSC’s recommendation to retain a reduced estate via partial sales, why wasn’t this option costed so that we could make a proper evaluation of this option? It is quite clear that Cabinet never had any intention of even acknowledging GOSC’s recommendation and that the decision to sell had already been made”.

Councillor Felicity Norman said: “When the decision was made by the Cabinet, assurances were given that the process would be handled carefully, with full support and advice being given to the tenants, who would also be given the opportunity to purchase their farms. This does not appear to be the case.

“We are calling for all notices to quit to be withdrawn until a clear plan of action has been drawn up, a timetable produced and full discussions held with tenants and their representatives.”

Bill Wiggin doesn’t think fracking needs environmental permit

As far as we can tell, Leominster MP Bill Wiggin isn’t very bothered about the environmental impact of fracking in his constituency, according to this record of a vote on 26 Jan 2015.

As far as we can tell, Hereford MP Jesse Norman didn’t even express a view, although we would welcome clarification from him on this.

See the full details here from publicwhip.co.uk

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