News from North Herefordshire constituency and council wards

ELLIE CAMPAIGNS TO WIN BACK ‘GREEN SEAT’

Ellie Chowns, the Green Party candidate in the current Herefordshire Council by-election is working hard to reach voters and win back a seat formerly held by the Greens.

Ellie is standing for election at Bishop’s Frome & Cradley, a large rural ward which straddles the A4103 Hereford to Worcester Road around Fromes Hill.

For many years, even before Herefordshire Council was set up, the area was represented by Councillor Guy Woodford, a ‘founding father’ of the Ecology Party/Green Party. In 2007 under the slogan ‘Vote Blue, Get Green’ the Conservatives mounted a successful campaign to unseat Guy.

Guy, 82, who lives in the ward at Acton Beauchamp and teaches art at Malvern Hills College has come out of ‘political retirement’ to help the Green Party regain his old seat.

“Ellie Chowns is like a breath of fresh air,” said Guy. “She is very high energy and in her element when she is talking to residents. She will make an excellent local councillor.”

Said Ellie: “I am really enjoying chatting to voters on the doorstep.  It’s been very encouraging – lots of people of all political backgrounds are planning to vote Green in this election because they like what we stand for!”

Ellie is competing with Tory, Lib Dem and Labour candidates. Polling takes place on Nov 23.

 

It’s Our County supports Ellie Chowns in Bishops Frome and Cradley by-election

Good news!  The press release below from IOC confirms they are standing aside in favour of Ellie Chowns.

Ellie contested the seat in May 2015, the sole challenger to Conservative Patricia Morgan, and captured 31% of the vote. This time both Labour and Lib Dems are also standing, but they have a poor record in recent by-elections (last and last-but-one in King’s Acre, and last in Golden Valley South).

Ellie is the only viable non-Tory candidate.

MEDIA STATEMENT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 6 November 2017

It’s Our County supports Ellie Chowns in council by-election

It’s Our County, Herefordshire’s own independent party, is not standing a candidate in the Bishops Frome and Cradley by-election. IOC believes that Ellie Chowns is an impressive and very capable candidate.  

“We do not want to risk splitting the vote for Ellie by standing one of our own prospective candidates in the ward. For the same reason, IOC also didn’t stand a candidate against Peter Jinman in the recent by-election in Golden Valley South, which Peter won with a large majority,” said group leader Cllr Anthony Powers. “It makes sense for the opposition parties on Herefordshire Council to work together in this way and we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to consensus politics to deliver the best outcomes for Herefordshire,” he added.

Cllr Felicity Norman, chairwoman of North Herefordshire Green Party, said: “We warmly welcome IOC support for Ellie Chowns. This is in line with our view that like-minded campaigners need to work together whenever possible.”

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

18 Oct.Transition Cycle Ride, Leominster

Wed 18th – Transition cycle ride, meet in Corn Square,Leominster at 10am. A leisurely ride taking in some local orchards, stopping for coffee and back around 1pm. All welcome, including novices.

 

All walks, bike rides, teas etc. are fundraisers for the Green Party, as well as being pleasant social occasions, and we suggest a minimum contribution of £3.00. Children free.  If coming by car please try to share transport where possible. Non-members are very welcome. We are very grateful to those who kindly host these events, many thanks.  Could you host a walk and tea or other social/fundraising event? If so, please ring 01568 780886 or emailfolley.farm@btinternet.com

Summer socials

Wednesday 23rd August – Summer Social and Quiz at 7.30pm. De Koffie Pot, Hereford

Tuesday 12th September – North Herefordshire Green Party AGM at 6.30pm followed by Bring and Share meal, at Canon Frome Court.

Wednesday 11th October – Hereford & South Herefordshire Green Party AGM at 7pm. De Koffie Pot, Hereford

All walks, bike rides, teas etc. are fundraisers for the Green Party and we ask for a minimum contribution of £3.00. Children free. Non-members are very welcome. If coming by car please try to share transport where possible. Many thanks to those who kindly host these events. We are always interested in new areas to walk in, or new social/fundraising ideas so please contact us on 01568 780886 if you would like to hold a walk and tea or any other fundraising event.

A message from Ellie Chowns

THANK YOU so much for your support, your activism, and your votes. I feel really proud of what we’ve achieved in North Herefordshire. We got 5.5% of the vote – one of the highest Green vote shares nationally, and more than three times the national Green average of 1.6%. Although we lost some votes, the decline here was much lower than nationally, and of course we saved our deposit! The Green vote was squeezed hard everywhere by the growth in the Labour vote. Of course I am sad that the Green voice hasn’t been heard strongly enough in this election, since our messages on climate change, on wildlife, on Trident, on voting reform and so on are still not getting the attention they deserve. But I am also very pleased that so many Green ideas have been adopted and promoted by Labour, with such great success!

In North Herefordshire – a very safe Tory seat – Labour came second with 18.9%, a completely unprecedented result for them. All credit to Jeremy Corbyn and Labour for proving everyone wrong. I’m amazed that Theresa May thinks she can continue as PM having shot herself in the foot so completely; and I am horrified at the thought of her coalition of chaos with the reactionary DUP. Heaven knows what the coming months will bring. But I can promise this: I will continue to stand up for Green principles and ideas; I will work to hold Bill Wiggin and the chaotic Conservatives to account; and I will certainly stand in more elections!

It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to represent the Green Party in this election. Locally we have run a fantastic, high-energy, high-visibility, high-quality campaign. We’ve been a credible, effective opposition to Tory cuts and hard Brexit. We’ve offered an inspiring vision of a better, greener future: investment in public services, serious environmental protection, and an economy that works for everyone. And today’s results show, yet again, that we urgently need political reform so that everyone’s vote counts.

Now more than ever, Green voices in politics are needed. If you’re not already a member, please consider joining the Green Party. Thank you again to everyone who helped with this campaign. You have been BRILLIANT!

On tactical voting – General Election 2017, note date

There has been much debate locally and on social media about tactical voting and progressive alliances. Greens have stood down in quite a few seats nationally where there is a clear challenger to the Tories, but this has not been reciprocated by other parties apart from in Brighton.

There is no clear challenger in Hereford and South Herefordshire. Labour came third last time, beating the Liberal Democrats who came fourth only just in front of the Greens. Jim Kenyon has muddied the waters and seems to be taking a ‘none of the above’ vote, probably some of whom voted for UKIP last time. Labour, Lib Dem and Jim Kenyon all say they are best placed to beat the Tories. This basically means the votes will split and Jesse Norman is likely to win. It’s annoying, but it’s reality. It’s a similar situation in North Herefordshire, although without such a strong independent candidate.

We urge you to explain to your friends, family and neighbours that the next best result for both seats would be a really strong Green vote. It sets us up for next time – and local elections in 2019. It builds our credibility, and gets our issues on the agenda.

Voting tactically for another candidate isn’t going to beat the Tories here because the vote is splitting. It would be a wasted vote in Hereford. Every Green sympathiser who votes elsewhere actually weakens the Green message.

If you genuinely want parties to work together to beat the Tories and change the voting system, Greens are demonstrably more committed to this than others. A strong Green vote promotes this more strongly than one for more partisan parties. And Labour don’t even want electoral reform yet, which would change the whole political climate overnight.

Difficult days, but let’s hang in there. We are needed. And we need every vote. Please don’t lend it to others – you won’t get it back.

Stand up for what matters in North Herefordshire

I’m campaigning on four key issues here in North Herefordshire.  I believe we need to:

  • Reverse the devastating Conservative cuts to local services;
  • Rethink how we treat the environment;
  • Remodel our economy so that it works for everyone;
  • Reform our broken political system.

1: Reverse cuts to local services

Our local services have been cut back to the bone over the past 7 years.  Herefordshire Council’s budget has been slashed by more than a third (£70 million over the past 6 years), with more cuts to come.  This has had terrible impacts on vital local services such as libraries and road maintenance, and on voluntary sector organisations such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Hereford Carers Support.  And what’s worse is – our own MPs have consistently and repeatedly voted for this over the past 7 years.

We’ve also seen big cuts to school budgets.  My own sons’ school in Ledbury is losing £600 per pupil over the next few years. Fully 99% of schools are facing per-pupil funding cuts.  This is absolute madness!  We should be investing in our children before anything else.

These cuts have been driven by the discredited ideology of austerity.  What that really means is: tax cuts for the wealthy, and cuts to public services for everyone else.  We are all the poorer as a result.

Public services are an investment in making life better for all of us.  Tax should not be seen as a burden – it’s simply how we pay collectively for things that we all want but can’t buy individually, like safe streets and healthy communities.

2: Rethink how we treat the environment

We’re lucky here in Herefordshire to live in such beautiful surroundings.  But we’re kidding ourselves if we think everything’s fine on the environmental front.  The warning signs are all around us.  2016 was the hottest year on record, as was 2015, and 2014.  In fact, 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century, and our planet hasn’t been this hot for 115,000 years.   The Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2040.  There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that this warming is due to human activities.  Time is running out for us to change course.  We have to wean ourselves entirely off fossil fuels and move to a 100% renewable, zero carbon economy.

Biodiversity is also under threat.  60% of British species are on the decline, and 15% are threatened with extinction.  Sadly, farming is the main cause – so this issue is particularly relevant in Herefordshire.  Greens are calling urgently for an Environmental Protection Act – not least because many of our current environmental protections derive from European law and, as the Environmental Audit Committee said recently, there is a very grave danger that Brexit will be an excuse for watering them down or removing them altogether.

3: Remodel our economy so that it works for everyone

The economy should serve society, not the other way round.  Everyone should have the right to a decent job with decent pay, and a decent warm house to live in.  But we’re a long way from this.  The median wage is lower today than 10 years ago, and 6.2 million UK jobs (about a quarter) pay less than the Living Wage.  Meanwhile the wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK increased by 14% last year, and the richest 1% own more than 20 times the wealth of the poorest 20%.  Greens would change the tax and benefits system to reverse these damaging trends, because greater equality is better for everyone.

Wages are low in Herefordshire, but house prices are relatively high, so we have a real problem with affordability of housing – we’re the second-worst in the West Midlands.  We also have one of the highest rates of fuel poverty too.  Greens would ensure that all homes are properly insulated, and make sure that all new homes are built to the highest environmental standards – creating thousands of new Green jobs.

4: Reform our broken political system

Currently, a small minority of voters in a few dozen marginal seats determine what sort of government we get.  It’s a recipe for complete complacency in so-called ‘safe seats’ like North Herefordshire, and so it’s not surprising that many people here feel disillusioned with politics.  We need a political system where everyone’s vote counts, and where MPs work full time for their constituents – unlike Bill Wiggin, who spends one day a week managing hedge funds in tax havens.  We need and deserve independent voices in Westminster, standing up for their home areas and holding the government to account.

North Herefordshire is the 46th safest Tory seat in the country.  It’s a place where the Conservatives, to be honest, take the electorate for granted.  It is not a key marginal, so it simply doesn’t make sense to vote tactically here.  Instead this is a place where voters can and should vote for what they believe in.  Greens are the fastest-growing party locally: we have more council seats than Labour and the Lib Dems put together, and we doubled our vote in 2015.  Every Green vote counts – it strengthens our message and demonstrates the depth of public support for the things that really matter: strong public services, care for the environment, an economy that works for everyone, and a political system in which everyone’s voice is heard.

Brexit and the Environment

Join us for a Big Green Conversation about Europe and the environment with Jill Hanna. Jill has spent many years representing the EU at high-level environmental protection negotiations all over the world, including on reforestation, the safe disposal of chemical waste, and climate change. All welcome!

A NEW DATE AND VENUE FOR THE BIG GREEN CONVERSATION FROM HEREFORDSHIRE GREEN PARTY: Burgage Hall, Ledbury on Friday 1st June, 7.30pm.

Big Green Conversations are an informal, relaxed and sociable event to which all are welcome.

Ellie’s campaign gears up

The first 10 days of the campaign have been busy!  I’ve been out campaigning in Ledbury and Leominster during the week, as well as at the Hereford River Carnival, the Spring Greens Fair, and the Big Apple Blossomtime festival over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Meanwhile we’ve designed, printed, and distributed our first leaflets and posters, and made dozens of signboards – which are already being put up by supporters all around the constituency.  Volunteers have phoned all of our local Green Party members, too, mobilising activists.

We’ve got an ever-expanding calendar of campaign events, which you can see here.  There are Campaign Action Days every Saturday all around the constituency:

  • Ledbury: 6 May
  • Leominster: 13 May
  • Kington: 20 May
  • Bromyard: 27 May
  • Ledbury, Leominster and Kington: 3 June

These are a great way to meet fellow Greens locally and help spread the word by working together.  Do get in touch if you can come along and help.

Herefordshire Greens will also be hosting two ‘Big Green Conversation’ events during the campaign:

  • Weds 24th May: ‘Why Equality is Better for Everyone’, with Martin Wilkinson from the Equality Trust. De Koffie Pot, Hereford, 7.30pm.
  • Friday 2nd June: ‘Europe and the Environment’, with Jill Hanna from the European Commission.  The Burgage Hall, Ledbury, 7.30pm.

All are welcome to come along and discuss these key political issues in an informal, conversational atmosphere.

There will be election hustings in Leominster on Friday 12 May at 7pm, and in Ledbury (date tbc) – a good opportunity to grill the candidates on the issues you care about.

I’ll post weekly updates here on the website, but for daily updates please follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter – and help spread the word!  Thanks for your support.

 

Spring Greens is Back!

Spring Greens Fair is a family-friendly sustainability event for mutual education, training and the demonstration of innovative skills and ideas. Held every Early May Bank Holiday it aims to showcase inspiring, enjoyable and healthy solutions to the difficult social, environmental and economic issues which confront us regionally, nationally and globally; whilst being a fantastic day-out.

If you are Going to the Fair, you can watch demonstrations of traditional crafts and new technologies; listen to live music and poetry; attend talks and discussions on anything from local conservation to carbon credits; meet old and new friends; buy organic plants and green products; enjoy freshly prepared food and drinks; join interesting and amusing activities; expand knowledge on guided walks; or just stroll around the beautiful grounds of Court of Noke.

Find out more here.

Leominster Apple Fair: Blossom Walk

You are invite to a walk of approximately 3.5 miles led by Pete Blench of Walkers are Welcome. It will include the lovely old orchard on Risbury Hill Fort, where we will have a bring-and-share picnic tea.

Meet 2.30pm at Humber Woodland of Remembrance on Sunday 7th May 2017. £3.00.

Transport can also be arranged from Broad Street car park, Leominster. Ring 01568 780886 to arrange this or to find out more.Our thanks to Diane and Robert Thomas of Risbury Court Farm for allowing us to walk on their land.

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

Calling Green supporters in North Herefordshire!

This General Election is a great opportunity for us to raise our voices against damaging Tory cuts and a risky hard Brexit – and to campaign positively for our vision of a thriving green economy, fair politics, and proper investment in public services.

We’re planning an action-packed campaign including Action Days in all the market towns, leafleting across the constituency, and a busy schedule of meetings and visits all over North Herefordshire.

Can you help?

We really do need all hands on deck!  Please get in touch if you can help with:

  • Displaying a poster in your window – and/or a roadside signboard
  • Leafleting and canvassing – either alongside an Action Day in a town, or as part of an evening bike ride in the more rural areas, or simply in your own time in your own local area.
  • Getting the message out in other ways – please send me suggestions for groups I should talk to, events I should attend, and great local initiatives (community projects, green businesses etc.) that I should visit and learn about.

Get in touch by emailing ellie@greenherefordshire.org.uk, or use the contact form here.  Let’s send a message to the Tories: they shouldn’t take North Herefordshire for granted!

Support Ellie’s Crowdfunder

Ellie is the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for North Herefordshire in the 2017 General Election.  She’s local, energetic, and principled – and she’s determined to challenge the Conservatives on their damaging cuts and the risks of hard Brexit.

Ellie stands for a positive vision of how our county and country could be: a caring society that invests properly in public services; a fair economy that provides decent jobs and homes for all; action on climate change and protection for nature; and an honest politics where everyone’s vote counts.

Help Ellie and the Greens send a message to Theresa May and the Tories – they shouldn’t take this constituency for granted!

Please chip in to Ellie’s campaign in whatever way you can.  THANK YOU for your support!

By making a donation you confirm that you are eligible to make political donations in the UK (i.e. that you are an individual registered on a UK electoral register) and that this donation is not made for or on behalf of any other person.

Please note that any donations over £50 have to be declared to the Electoral Commission along with the name and address of the donor.  Anonymous donations over £50 cannot be accepted.

Promoted by Ellie Chowns, North Herefordshire Green Party, 11a Canon Frome Court, Canon Frome, Ledbury HR8 2TD.

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%)

Green debates Brexit Future for Farmers

Ellie Chowns - Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (North)
Ellie Chowns – Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (North) and Secretary (North)

North Herefordshire’s Green Party parliamentary challenger Dr Ellie Chowns last week debated post-Brexit agriculture policy in front of an audience of more than 60 agriculture students and staff at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, outlining  the important choices ahead if we are to get the best future for our food and farming sector.

In the debate with MP Bill Wiggin, Dr Chowns emphasised the need to combine support for family farms and rural communities while also increasing food security and environmental benefits. She referenced two new reports commissioned by Green MEP, Mollie Scott Cato, setting out a detailed vision for farming post-Brexit.

Said Dr Chowns: “Currently more than half the income of UK farmers comes from subsidies, and far too much of that money is wasted on paying large landowners to do nothing.  Brexit gives us the opportunity to reorient farming support so that it incentivises positive action like environmental protection and job creation”.

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