17 November – Leominster Big Day Out for May 2019 local election.

The next West Midlands Green Party Big Day Out is in Leominster to help three hard-working councillors Felicity NormanJenny Bartlett and Trish Marsh get re-elected in next May’s County Council elections.
Greens are getting some big wins on Herefordshire Council, such as passing a motion on fossil fuel divestment.
The Tories with their small majority on the Council will be trying to keep control of Herefordshire by unseating our councillors – putting Felicity, Jenny and Trish’s work at risk. We can’t let that happen.
They need your support to help them be re-elected in May. We know working now will keep us one step ahead of the Tories. Your help could be vital.
Please join the Big Day Out on 17 November to re-elect 3 hard-working Leominster councillors.

RSVP here

We’re meeting for lunch at 12.00 at Cwmyoy, Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8PN, before going out for a couple of hours of campaigning.
Don’t worry if you’ve not done anything like this before. Full training will be provided.
After the campaigning we’ll head for some refreshment in a local pub.
Hope you can join us!

9 November – “Bringing Communities Together”, Millichap Peace Fund discussion, Friends Meeting House Hereford

A discussion on ‘Bringing Communities Together’.

John Dinnen will start things off with a talk entitled ‘Curing Irish Apartheid’

There will be the usual stalls and refreshments from 7 pm.  followed by talk at 7.30 pm.

Friends Meeting House,  21 King St.  Hereford HR4 9BX

Admission Free – Donations welcome

organised by

Millichap Peace Fund

millichap.peacefund@gmail.com

Brian Lunt – died 3 October 2018

We were very sad to hear recently that Brian Lunt had died. Brian, a long time activist for the environment, peace and justice, was buried at Humber Woodland of Remembrance on Friday, surrounded by family and friends. Many shared happy memories of Brian at different times in his life, before moving on to Canon Frome Court, where he and the family had lived for many years, for refreshments.

For some of us who knew Brian for a long time, it was also the time and effort that he put into the Green Party that we remember. Brian was a life member of the party and at one time stood as Green parliamentary candidate for Hereford, focussing primarily on Climate Change, something he cared passionately about, recognising the threat it posed earlier than many. He also served as treasurer and fundraiser at different times. Many of us will remember with pleasure joining Brian and Sheila at Breinton for green walks and teas, and sharing lively discussions at other green gatherings over the years.

Brian was a much valued member of our green family and will be remembered with affection and gratitude.

Felicity Norman

Green Mayor – and bagpipes! – welcome ‘Peace Train’ to Leominster

The sound of bagpipes played by kilted Scotsman Murdo White rang out at Leominster Station on 24 October as  Mayor Jenny Bartlett joined local well-wishers to welcome “the Peace Train.”

Members of Hereford Peace Council rode the train along the Welsh borders collecting letters and petitions at each station demanding the UK joins international moves to ban nuclear weapons.

Last year 122 countries called for nuclear weapons to be made illegal and for a diplomatic process to begin to universally eradicate them.

ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in getting this overwhelming majority of United Nations countries to agree to The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

However, the UK did not and does not intend to sign this treaty.

On the train, as the carriage doors opened at Leominster, leading UK peace campaigner Rebecca Johnson (pictured) held up the Nobel peace medal she received. It was a perfect day – Wednesday, October 24 – United Nations Day, part of Disarmament Week. The clear message of the letters and petitions being taken on to London, to the House of Commons, was “It’s time to get peace back on track.”

Said Jenny Bartlett: “It was all too brief but Leominster gave the Peace Train a great welcome – thanks to Leominster’s own piper Murdo White and all those who turned out including rector Rev Mike Kneen and town crier Richard Brookman.”

12 October – visit to NMITE (Hereford University) design cohort students

This afternoon I visited NMITE (the new University in Hereford) to meet informally with the ‘design cohort’ of 25 students who are helping work out how to turn the vision into reality. It was great to hear their enthusiasm! This week they’ve been thinking through what the learning spaces should look like. The photos show some of their creative ideas. It was really good to hear them talk about their hopes for sustainability principles to be woven through all aspects of the new Uni.

Response to 2019-2020 Herefordshire Council Budget Consultation

Ellie Chowns says:

I’ve been asking some pointed questions about the council’s recent budget consultation. In particular, I’m frustrated that there was no consultation on the capital budget. This is where Hfds Council currently has quite a lot of ‘wiggle room’, given that it recently made nearly £50m from selling off the farms. Only half that money has so far been allocated, so what is the Cabinet planning to do with the rest? I believe local residents should have a real say in this decision. This is a once-in-a-generation windfall, so we should think REALLY CAREFULLY about how to spend it, and the Cabinet should consult local people on what the priorities should be. I don’t think enough people understand the opportunities and risks here – the council has not communicated openly about this at all.

You can read my full response to the budget consultation process here.

I’ve also asked the Council Leader, (Jonathan Lester) and the Cabinet Member for Finance (Nigel Shaw) for answers to five questions I asked them at the full council meeting a couple of weeks ago:

1. Why was virtually no information given to residents about the capital budget in the recent consultation process?
2. When will residents (and councillors) be consulted on the capital budget?
3. Why were councillors’ suggestions for improvements to the consultation design (such as the inclusion of open-ended questions), made at the budget consultation briefing in July, ignored – even though assurance was given to us at the time that they would be acted upon?
4. Will the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance commit to giving councillors much more opportunity to feed into consultation design in future?
5. Will the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance commit to giving residents much more opportunity to participate in the budgeting process in future?

EC email to Nigel Shaw re 2019-20 budget

Email from Ellie Chowns to Nigel Shaw, Cabinet Member for Finance, 24 September 2018

Budget consultation feedback

Dear Nigel,

Thank you for the opportunity to feed into the consultation on the Council’s 2019/20 budget.

I appreciate that the budget process is a major undertaking and that lots of people are working very hard on it.  However there are a few areas where the process needs to be improved, and so I will focus here on my three main concerns.

1: Capital budget

I am disappointed and concerned that there was virtually no mention of the capital budget in the consultation. This seems to me very odd, considering that we have almost no ‘wiggle room’ in revenue budgets due to years of austerity policies that have slashed Council budgets to the bone but we have much more flexibility in the capital budget.  In relative terms, capital budget is very significant: revenue budget of £145m next year, vs capital budget of £92m this year (a proportion of which I assume is likely to be carried over) and £48m next year?

And yet virtually all of the 25-page powerpoint consultation doc is focused on the revenue budget.

The only information on capital given to the public is on p24, which has a very basic summary of the capital programme (as it stood in January 2018) with no detail or explanation.  As I understand it, the only way a reader could find out what this money is being spent on is by looking at p205 of the January 2018 Council meeting papers, but this information is not given to residents.  (Also: the headline figures do not appear to have been updated to incorporate revisions to the capital budget that were agreed at council in July 2018).

At the very least I would expect that a consultation on the 2019/20 budget should include information on planned capital expenditure for 2019/20 and beyond, along with some explanatory text.

I would like to request that future budget consultations:

·       Provide residents with much more detail on the capital budget, commensurate with the scale of the capital budget relative to revenue;

·       List key capital projects planned, explain their justification, and seek resident feedback on them;

·       Provide residents with a structured opportunity to feed in ideas on top priorities for capital investment.

Fundamentally, residents should be provided with a) enough information to understand what the council is planning to spend capital on and to reach a reasoned view on whether this is a good use of money, and b) an opportunity to feed into decision-making on capital expenditure.

Since we still have several months before Council considers the budget, perhaps this could now be done?

2: The ‘till receipt’

I appreciate the rationale for this initiative – to make council expenditure more transparent to local residents.  However I feel the presentation of the ‘schools and education’ section is misleading.  A casual reader would get the impression that this is by far the largest item on which council tax is spent, and this is not at all the case.  Although the receipt is structured so as to show the DSG in the ‘voucher’ section, I suspect that what is really meant here will not be clear to the majority of readers.

I therefore suggest:

·       Budget items such as schools and education, and public health, which are entirely (or almost entirely) covered by central government grant, should be shown separately from the ‘council tax’ part of the till receipt.

·       Consideration should be given to showing expenditures not just in £ terms but also % terms (and ideally visually – ref the pie charts sent out by HMRC annually to taxpayers.)

3: Consultation design

I and other councillors raised a number of points on this at the budget consultation briefing in July. In particular, there was concern about the simplistic and closed nature of the survey questions. I distinctly remember a verbal commitment being given at that meeting to include space for respondents to write comments, but this was not in fact done.

I would have been very happy to contribute to improving the design of the information documents and the survey, but there was no time allowed for this; Councillors were briefed the day before the consultation was due to be released.  Comments made by myself and others at the meeting that would have improved readability of the powerpoint (inclusion of page numbers, revised presentation of p6 graphic) were not acted on.

On the budget consultation website there were no links to enable residents to easily access information beyond that provided in the PPP.

I do hope that in future years councillors will be given more opportunity to comment on the structure of the consultation before it is opened.

Thank you once more for the opportunity to feed in, and I look forward to engaging with you throughout the process over the coming months.

All the best, Ellie

9 November – “Peace, Police, Youth, You”, (cancelled and replaced by a different talk)

We are very sorry that Paul Hutchinson who was to talk to us about ‘Case Studies from Northern Ireland’ on Friday 9th November, is unwell and has had to cancel his visit.

 But we are not cancelling the evening, and will have a discussion on ‘Bringing Communities Together’.

We are very pleased that  John Dinnen, at very short notice,  will start things off with talk entitled ‘Curing Irish Apartheid’  

 We hope you will still come along and join us. there will be the usual stalls and refreshments from 7 pm.  followed by talk at 7.30 pm.

Peace, Police, Youth, You: Case studies from Northern Ireland, Talk by Paul Hutchinson at the Friends Meeting House, King Street, Hereford. 7.30pm (stalls and refreshments from 7pm)

Paul Hutchinson is the founder/Director of Imagined Spaces, and former director of Corrymeela, (Northern Ireland’s oldest peace & reconciliation centre). He is a mediator, therapist, film-maker, story-teller and peace-practitioner.

Organised by the Millichap Peace Fund.

 

 

28 October – Annual Bleddfa Lecture: “The F Word”

11:30am Bleddfa Church.

THE F-WORD – forgiving in an unforgiving world

Marina Cantacuzino is a journalist who founded The Forgiveness Project in 2004. The charity was set up to tell the real stories of people whose response to being harmed was not a call for revenge but rather a quest for restoration and healing. Marina’s book The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age was published in 2015.

Marian Partington’s interest in healing threads through her work as a homeopath, and as a story teller and facilitator for The Forgiveness Project. Her book If You Sit Very Still offers ‘an extraordinary story of inner movement and growth’ (Rowan Williams) as she engages with the traumatic loss of her sister Lucy who was murdered by Fred and Rosemary West.

Request your FREE ticket from Bleddfa Centre:

01547 550377 or email hello@bleddfacentre.org

Bleddfa LD7 1PA is halfway between Knighton and Pen y Bont on the A488

4 November – Walk and tea with Elaine and Chris at Eardisland

We will be following one of the Eardisland World War 1 memorial walks from the village.

Meet at 2.15pm at the village car park opposite the dovecote by the river. After the walk we will have tea at Lyme Cottage, Lyme Lane, Eardisland

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 email folley.farm@btinternet.com

24 October – A Peace Train visits Leominster

October 24th is United Nations Day and, to celebrate the day, Transition Leominster is supporting Hereford Peace Council in a very special event. A designated train on the line from Chester to Newport will carry members and friends of the Peace Council as ambassadors to the government. They will be greeted at every station en route by groups of sympathisers to their message. And what is that message?

“ Sign the United Nations Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons”

Last year saw the fulfilment of the long standing aim of the UN when 122 countries agreed that nuclear weapons should be illegal and that the process should begin to eradicate them universally. They gave official recognition to the fact that nuclear weapons, whoever holds them, whether by purpose or accident, threaten the very existence of humanity.

The British Government has refused to sign the treaty.

At every station where the Peace Train stops, letters and petitions to the government will be handed over to those messengers on the train, to be carried from Newport to London and the House of Commons. Many groups along the line have responded to this call asking our government to take this step towards a more peaceful and secure world. Transition Leominster’s placards will be emphasising those essential elements of life which would benefit from transfer of the expenditure on Trident missiles – food security, water, health, education. Page 100 of the UNA-UK Sustainable Development Goals spells it out:

Peace is at the heart of sustainable development

The Peace Train is scheduled to stop in Leominster at 11.18 am on October 24th. All those in sympathy with the message are encouraged to write their own letter or sign the petition at the Community Centre or Priory Church, where there is more information. And to come to the station on the day in support.

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.

30 October – Southern Link Road Public Inquiry LAST DAY IS TUESDAY 13 NOVEMBER

The Inquiry will examine whether it is in the public interest for land to be compulsorily purchased to build the SLR.

The Inquiry will be held in the Bridge Room at Hereford Left Bank. Starts at 10 AM on 30 October and runs for seven days (excluding weekend), closing on 7 November.

It is open to everyone – not just those who have objected to the SLR in the past.  Just drop in if you can spare an hour or so.

All the documents to be considered are on this website

Hope to see you there!

20 October – Brexit People’s Vote March in London

Coaches are being organised to take people from Hereford and Ledbury as follows:

Hereford coach leaves Merton Meadows car park at 6.30AM.

Ledbury coach leaves Ledbury station car park at 7.00AM

For Hereford, the organisers say – “A ”FREE” coach will be leaving Hereford at 6.30am on the 20th, and this is targeted primarily (but not exclusively) at students and young people. In order to book a place please email Herefordshire@4eu.org.uk. We are asking students to pay £10 to secure their place and this will be refunded on arrival at the coach. In order to book places we need full name, mobile number and next of kin details. Free places are also available for non students.”

Seats on the Ledbury coach are £20 each. Contact Herefordshire@4eu.org.uk or suepenn@outlook.com

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”

 

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