News from North Herefordshire constituency and council wards

Greening the mountain slopes of Nepal  

Chris Evans grew up in a comfortable home in Herefordshire, but after gaining a forestry degree and joining VSO, he found himself in a harsh environment where communities struggle to survive on degraded land.

His arrival in 1985 was the beginning of a lifelong association with people and farming in the mountains of Nepal where he has helped set up the Himalayan Permaculture Centre. In a talk in Leominster for Herefordshire’s Tree Week programme, Chris described how there was now hope for the future in the challenging terrain.  Spread of permaculture methods in which planting trees and perennial plants alongside arable crops are key, is helping to reverse decline.

In many areas fuel had become desperately short, with women spending up to six hours a day walking to find and gather a bundle of firewood. As a result people resorted to burning animal manure, thus depriving the soil of input. “It’s a no-money economy,” said Chris, “In many ways they are incredibly resilient communities, but they face a constantly deteriorating resource base.”

The ecological recovery work has included improved composting techniques, better harvesting of water resources, boosting honey production with better beehives, seed production and training ‘barefoot consultants’ to reach farming communities needing advice. Chris illustrated his talk with superb images of the rural Nepalese people and their mountain landscape. He is happy to give talks around the county.

Chris and his partner Looby are based at Waterloo Farm, Orleton, near Leominster, where they recently launched Applewood Permaculture training centre.   Contact cevans@gn.apc.org

Guarding the Guardians: Herefordshire Independent Advisory Group

Peter Ellis, formerly one of our Green town councillors, came to speak to us at a recent Green Party meeting in Leominster as Penny, Chair of HIAG. Penny is Trans and very aware of the problems that can face members of minority groups. She agreed to write a short piece for Greengage.

Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) were formed in the 2000s to give advice to police forces in their interaction with minority groups. This followed the Macpherson report on the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence which discovered that prejudice and discrimination was present in the Metropolitan Police. The minority groups represented by an IAG were those listed in the Equality Act of 2010 viz. ethnicity and religion, disability and LGBT. The Herefordshire IAG (HIAG) was formed in April 2015 following a review of IAG provision on the formation of the alliance between West Mercia and Warwickshire Police Forces.

HIAG consists of members of the public who have volunteered some of their time to act as a “critical friend” of the police in the county. There are currently ten members drawn from a variety of minority communities or with an interest in supporting communities. The group meets quarterly with other contact by email. A regular task is to scrutinise, with senior police officers, data on use of stop and search powers and reported hate-crime and to examine reports of hate-crime incidents. For the purpose of recording incidents, the definition of a hate-crime is an act motivated by prejudice, hostility or hatred to an identifiable group of people to which the victim is perceived to belong i.e. the reason for the incident was the appearance or behaviour of the victim. This definition includes groups not included in the list of protected minorities mentioned in the Equality Act. For example, the murder of Sophie Lancaster was classed as a hate-crime because she was attacked for being a goth.

 

The group also advises the police on how they should proceed in dealing with specific incidents. This could potentially be during or immediately following an incident. The group has also been involved in the preparation and dissemination of publicity campaigns to improve the reporting of hate-crime. In the year Oct 2105 to Oct 2016 the number of reported hate-crime incidents went up by more than a third. It is impossible to say however whether this was a result of improved reporting, or an increase in the number of incidents following the Brexit referendum.

Some members have addressed groups of trainee police officers as part of their diversity training, but this is not a requirement of group members. In the same way, some members attended Herefordshire Pride in July and are involved in other community cohesion initiatives.

HIAG performs a very important role in both supporting the work of the local police force and ensuring that every citizen is treated fairly. There is no limit to the number of members of the group and the aim is to have representatives from as many minority groups resident in Herefordshire as possible. Anyone interested in knowing more can contact me at pennyellis1@btinternet.com.

Penny Ellis, Chair HIAG

Trip to Swan Brewery

Herefordshire Greens will be visiting Swan Brewery in Leominster on Saturday, 4th February 2017 from 2-4pm.

This recently-established family-run brewery majors on sustainability. Experienced brewer Jimmy Swan has won green awards in the industry. We will join Leominster Allotments Society members on the tour (they use Swan’s spent hops for compost). Entry free/donation to Birmingham Childrens’ Hospital if you wish. Contact Pete at folley.farm@btinternet.com or 01568 780886.

Swan Brewery, Enterprise Park, Brunel Road, Leominster HR60LX

Shropshire Greens: new constituencies shouldn’t divide counties

Green Party candidates for Church Stretton and Craven Arms in the May 2017 Shropshire Council elections put fairness and democracy at the centre of discussions about electoral boundaries.

On Tuesday, 8th November 2016, Hilary Wendt and Steve Hale who have been selected as Green Party candidates for the Church Stretton and Craven Arms division  in the May 2017 Shropshire Council elections took part in an Electoral Commission meeting in Shrewsbury to discuss boundary changes.

 In a wide-ranging discussion they requested that 4 key principles be met before any changes are made:

  1. Parliamentary constituencies must exactly match council areas and should not straddle a Shropshire-Herefordshire boundary
  2. Parliamentary constituencies should take into account the special circumstances of sparsely populated areas like South Shropshire.  Imposing a “one size fits all” population number risks making constituencies far too big in terms of square miles and does not take into account the difficulties of accessing MPs who may well be many miles away from towns and villages.  Our poor quality public transport in Shropshire makes accessibility much more difficult than it would be in a more densely populated part of the country
  3. We must have proportional representation and actively promote a fair electoral system where the number of MPs in any Party accurately reflect the number of votes for that Party
  4. We must not indulge in any kind of gerrymandering.  Boundary changes that favour one party more than another must be rejected 

Commenting on the meeting in Shrewsbury, Hilary Wendt said:  “Our voting system is clearly very unfair and proportional representation is urgently needed to make sure that the way people vote is reflected in the number of MPs from different parties in the House of Commons.

Steve Hale added:   “There are many things wrong with the current voting system and the way we elect MPs but as we make progress towards PR we must make sure that we do not make things worse.  This means we must make sure constituencies exactly match our council areas and very large constituencies in terms of area should not be imposed on sparsely populated areas.  There is a persuasive case for smaller constituencies (in terms of population) in places like South Shropshire where it is very difficult to move around.

Ellie Chowns - Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (North)

Ellie goes regional

A HEREFORDSHIRE Green Party activist has taken on a key role in helping to build on the party’s success following recent local government election victories, record general election vote and boom in membership.

DR ELLIE CHOWNS, a member of Ledbury Green Party, was elected last Saturday at a meeting in Birmingham as a West Midlands representative on the Green Party’s Regional Council.

Ellie, 40, lives in Canon Frome, near Ledbury, and works as a lecturer at the University of Birmingham. Her new role involves sharing experiences with other regions, and helping to develop the Green Party’s national strategy.

“I got involved in politics for the first time last year – my election shows that the Green Party is very open to new people and fresh ideas,” said Ellie.

“This is a really exciting time to be involved in positive, progressive politics.  The Green Party is going from strength to strength, and there are lots of important things to work on, like the upcoming European Referendum.

“I’m really looking forward to using my new role to help build a greener, fairer society.”

Film on the Farm nights at Ledbury

Ledbury Greens were super-busy in the run-up to the 23 June referendum, with stalls and leafletting every weekend and some weekday evenings too – often working in cross-party partnership with other Remain campaigners.  After the bitter disappointment of the narrow victory for Leave, we’ve had a bit of a rest over the summer, but we’re back with a bang now with a new monthly ‘Film on the Farm’ night.  The plan is to combine food, entertainment, and discussion in a friendly social format.  Hope you can join us!

Diana Merry, 1920-2016

We are sad to report the death of a great Green pioneer – Diana Merry of Ledbury – one of the ‘founding mothers’ of the Green Party in our area.

Diana, who died aged 96, was resident at a nursing home with a good view of her former home Knapp House at Tunnel Lane, Ledbury, now home to her daughter Dilys and her family. In Diana’s time the house and its lovely garden was often the venue for enjoyable fundraising events for the Ecology Party, subsequently the Green Party. Diana helped promote the Greens at every opportunity. She could always be counted upon to turn up and support local, parliamentary and European Green candidates at local walk-abouts and events, and was a regular at party conferences.

Green Party county councillor Felicity Norman of Leominster, former parliamentary and European candidate, paid tribute at Diana’s funeral at Humber Woodland of Remembrance on August 2nd “I was very fond of Diana, who was great fun to be with,” said Felicity. “She was so wonderfully supportive through many elections, turning out to help with campaigning until quite recently. She was utterly consistent in her support for the party, sharing its principles and values over many years.”

Going Greener in North Herefordshire

North Herefordshire Green Party is in the process of selecting a candidate to fight the next General Election and at the time of going to press, one nomination had come forward. The ballot will take place over the next few weeks, and there will be a chance to meet and question the prospective candidate, Ellie Chowns, at the next Leominster Branch meeting in October.

We held our AGM in September and new officers were elected: Chair/coordinator – Felicity Norman; Treasurer – Peter Ellis; Elections Officer – Jenny Bartlett; Minute Secretary – Ellie Chowns; Media – Pete Blench; Other committee members elected were Roger Pugh, Anne Adams, Charlotte Millward and Rosie Winn. We are very grateful to outgoing Chair, Peter Ellis, and other officers standing down, for all the effort they have put in over the past year.

It was agreed formally to change our name to North Herefordshire Green Party, in line with the constituency name, and we will meet quarterly, ideally in different parts of the constituency. The Leominster Branch will continue to meet during the intervening months, and is in the process of putting out the latest edition of our town newsletter. We will also continue to keep in touch with South Herefordshire Green Party, especially over County and other shared matters.

Our County and town councillors continue to push for greener ways of working, to scrutinise council business and  oppose the worst of the conservative initiatives, inappropriate road schemes, including the southern link road blighting our beautiful countryside and devastating ancient woodland, while neglecting measures that would make a difference , better public transport and enabling cycling and walking; while they fail to seriously address the excessive phosphates in our rivers, the risk of fracking, and the many risks to tourism in our county ( a major contributor to our economy), among other concerns.  We are very sorry to have lost our youngest Leominster town councillor, Andy Gibson who has moved to work in Leeds. Good luck, Andy and our thanks to you, and all our councillors.

New Green Group in Bromyard

The Bromyward Green group launched in 2015, and now have a core of five pro-active  people, who usually attend meetings, which happen on the first Wednesday of the month at The Falcon Hotel, at 7.30.

We firstly decided to tackle traffic calming in the High Street and Broad Street, as the speed of some traffic was raised by traders as travelling too fast through a pedestrian area. It was decided  that what is needed is a 20 m.p.h. speed limit, raised platforms and a weight limit. The regional committee  have offered to help with the printing of a questionnaire and  assist in  delivering them to all houses in the town to gauge the feelings of the local community to these ideas. We now have a regular column in Off The Record, a monthly community publication, on sale in many retail outlets in the town.

Bromyard does not have a neighbourhood plan, so we intend to draught one of our own and recommend it to the town council.

We have suggested the idea of a ‘lend shop’, which exist in London and Frome. The idea is to encourage people to donate, or loan household and garden utensils like hedge trimmers, or step ladders, particularly things which are not used very often. The shop would be voluntarily run and function much like a library, lending items to residents for a small fee.

We welcome all residents of Bromyard and round about to meetings but hope all four and a half thousand don’t turn up on the same night. To get in touch, email bromyard@greenherefordshire.org.uk

Diana on sustrans bridge

Best Green vote ever in 2015

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

The full results were as follows:-

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

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

Celebrating success in Leominster

DESPITE substantial ward boundary changes that looked set to benefit the Conservatives, Herefordshire’s 2 Green Party county councillors were re-elected with comfortable majorities.

Jenny Bartlett and Felicity Norman of Leominster were celebrating success today after a hard-fought local election campaign involving many hours of canvassing.

The results declared at the local election count at Hereford Leisure Centre were: Leominster West – Felicity Norman (Green Party) 682, Con 486, Lib Dem 174. Leominster East – Jenny Bartlett (Green Party) 748, Con 587, UKIP 264.

1 3 4 5