Progress in the Bus Services Bill

The Bus Services Bill continues its journey through the House of Lords: the next reading will be on 23rd November, before the Bill moves to the House of Commons. We are thrilled that the Lords successfully passed an amendment which would make franchising powers automatically available *everywhere*, not just in cities with an elected Mayor.

But the Government have made clear they want to remove this amendment, and it risks being struck out by MPs.

Ask our MPs to support Bus Services Bill powers *everywhere*

The good news is that the Bill is already primed to improve bus services. Firstly, for the first time, it’s mandating that all new buses are ‘Talking Buses’, fitted with audio-visual information systems. This is a huge win for blind and visually impaired passengers everywhere. Rachel Kitchin from the Guidedogs campaign team blogs about how their relentless campaigning won the day.

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)

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

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