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.

Fracking: a clear and present danger in Herefordshire

Members of green groups in Herefordshire, including Greenpeace and the Green Party, leafleted shoppers in Hereford last Saturday on the controversial issue of Fracking.

Fracking is used to extract shale gas [1], and has recently been given the go ahead in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the face of very vocal opposition from local people, councils and from campaigners across the UK concerned about the negative environmental impacts. [2].

The demonstration outside Barclays Bank was to draw people’s attention to the bank’s involvement – it owns fracking company Third Energy, which plans to drill 19 wells across the district of Ryedale, North Yorkshire – and to ask that bank customers let Barclays know that they would like the bank to stop financing fracking.

Green campaigners in Hereford want to raise awareness of the negative impacts of fracking wherever it happens in the country.  Parts of south Herefordshire have been identified as potentially suitable for fracking, and last December, licenses were issued for exploration based on a preliminary assessment of the potential for producing shale gas [3].

Leaflets handed out to passers-by listed the key dangers from fracking in an area like Herefordshire:

  • Groundwater pollution from chemicals injected into wells, some of which will remain in the ground after the wells have been exhausted and are sealed off.
  • Pollution of surface water from fracking chemicals.
  • Increased levels of heavy freight traffic on rural roads
  • Noise and light pollution from 24 hour drilling operations
  • Methane gas leakage adding to global warming
  • Damage to the local tourism industry
  • Depressed house prices.

Rob Hattersley, who helped organise the event, said, “The level of interest was very high – the great majority we spoke to agreed that fracking was dangerous and they were against it, especially if it did come to Herefordshire.” 

Rob Palgrave, Hereford Green Party, added, “Back in 2010 the Conservative Party claimed it would be the greenest government ever. None of its policy changes since then remotely fulfil that promise. They launched what the then Chancellor called “the most generous tax regime for Shale gas anywhere in the world”. And, by disregarding the wishes of Lancashire residents and overturning their Council’s decision to block fracking, this government has trashed local democracy. The revelation in the national press last month that they had intentionally withheld information in advance of the planning decision about fracking in Yorkshire is shameful [5]”

Rick Guest of Herefordshire Greenpeace said, ”When I asked Jesse Norman about voting yes in the House of Commons fracking debate last December, it seemed he could hardly remember there had been a vote, let alone how close it was – about 275 v 255. Our MP should be taking a lead on protecting Herefordshire’s natural resources, especially the River Wye, not allowing dirty polluting industrial activities to threaten them.”

Notes

[1] Fracking – short for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing – is a technique for extracting shale gas from deposits in rocks up to 20,000 feet underground. After both vertical and horizontal drilling, explosive blasting is used to open up cracks in the rock, then very large volumes of water with sand and chemicals are injected at high pressure to open up the fractures and allow the trapped gas to escape.

[2] Permission to drill was refused by Lancashire County Council, but was granted by Westminster after the decision was called-in.

[3] Licences were subsequently turned down by South Western Energy, but the Oil & Gas Authority have not discounted offering licences to other companies in the next few years.

[4] Green Party opposes fracking in principle as it produces a fossil fuel which when burnt contributes to global warming. The Labour Party announced in September that it would ban fracking: “The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy. 

[5] “Government accused of ‘dirty tricks’ over controversial fracking report”: Ministers deliberately delayed a report showing fracking could affect house prices, health and the environment until after a crucial planning decision, documents reveal

It’s Tories not agencies privatising our NHS

It’s good to read in Bill Wiggin’s ‘Talking Point’ last week that he wants to stop our money being wasted on agency staff in the NHS.  I agree with him that ‘it is important that the NHS is able to manage its staffing budget and is not privatised by agencies who pay far higher rates’. However, it is not agencies who are privatising the NHS, it is his own party!  Many Herefordians are disappointed to see the support Bill, and Jesse Norman, have given over the years to the Government’s starving of our precious health service, and encouragement of wasteful internal markets.

Do we want Herefordshire to go the way of Bath and North East Somerset, where Virgin Care are now running NHS and social care services?  Where do we want our taxes to end up – in a nurse’s pocket or in Richard Branson’s tax haven?  The NHS is in serious danger, and to protect it as a public service, not a profit opportunity for big business, we have to challenge this Conservative obsession with breaking up and selling off our assets and services. It’s sad to see Bill and Jesse sharing this ideology, and I would like to remind them that Herefordshire is not for sale, the UK is not a business, and we are citizens not consumers. Some things, like the NHS, are priceless. 

Hereford MP Norman wants to frack

Hereford MP Jesse Norman has criticised Labour for saying it would ban fracking.

A Hereford Green spokesperson said: ‘Jesse Norman may find it interesting explaining his love of fracking to residents of South Herefordshire as they worry about falling house prices, polluted water supplies, earthquakes and damage to our tourist industry if the frackers are allowed to do their dirty work here in the beautiful Wye Valley. Why is he not putting all his effort into developing our renewables industry instead?’

Green MP Caroline Lucas welcomed Labour’s opposition to fracking but challenged them to oppose Hinkley too.

The Green Party believes that climate change is such an emergency that we have no time to use fossil fuel such as shale gas even to ‘transition’ to greener technology, and that this is a dangerous distraction.

All investment should be in renewable energy which would not only protect water supplies, the wider environment and our tourist industry, but would create local jobs too.

Read the full report from the BBC.

Jesse Norman MP meets Greens to discuss energy

In July, Jesse Norman was appointed to a junior ministerial post (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. His energy responsibilities are Nuclear and Oil & Gas including shale gas.  Soon after his appointment,  we contacted him to seek a meeting, intending to discuss the Hinkley Point decision, and fracking, among other issues.

We met him just after Hinkley Point was given the go ahead and shared our views on fracking, managing energy demand, the transport sector, home insulation, ratification of the Paris Agreement (COP21) and the extent to which government should directly manage the UK’s low carbon transition.  Unsurprisingly, there are still considerable differences between his position and ours, but it was a nonetheless a useful meeting.

Fracking fears in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean after licence issued to energy company

The Ross Gazette reports that Frack Off Our Forest, a local pressure group, is urging Herefordshire residents to write to their local MP, Jesse Norman, if they believe that fracking should not be allowed in the Wye Valley or the Forest of Dean.

It was revealed last year that areas of the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean are currently under consideration for fracking and gas and oil exploration.

On Thursday, July 21st, it was announced that South Western Energy had formally been issued a Government licence to explore for gas and oil. This licence had been offered to the company in December last year, and Frack Off Our Forest had been attempting to persuade the Government to withdraw this offer.

This licence area covers the whole of the Forest of Dean and a part of the Wye Valley. The licence gives South Western Energy exclusive rights to explore for gas or oil by drilling into rock and coal seams in the area.

Read the full Gazette article here.

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