Thursday 17 December 2009

Why be worried about Prince Charles?

Today's Guardian's story about Prince Charles writing letters to Government Departments is a storm in a (bone china) teacup. Why make a fuss about it? PC poses no threat to what's left of British democracy. I see him as being a 'particularly famous person' and I'm therefore more interested in what he says in the light of its impact on public opinion. PC is often voicing the views of his charities. There's no doubt he makes some very good points - about the appalling implications of genetic modification ; about the need for healthy communities; about climate change, sustainability, buildings, human abuse of nature and so on. Yes, PC does have more opportunity than many of us to see the bigger world picture (and that's not to say everything he says is right) so his personal view is worth hearing... and given the same weight as anyone else's.

Greens say that the constitutional functions of the monarchy should be abolished and the House of Lords be replaced with an elected chamber. This would leave PC as a public figure much as he is now. As several people have already said above, why are govt depts so worried about it? I suggest its because his views on the big issues like GM are opposed to the grey political parties' 'Save the Corporations and Save Us' stance.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Susan, Beverley, and the Polar Bear Rap

Susan the Polar Bear joined our mini 'Copenhagen' demo with some young activists in Beverley, Saturday.

Susan performed her own Polar Bear Rap which was very popular with some of our younger citizens who joined in enthusiastically. She also invited people to the Greens' fundraising bash at Hodgson's, (Flemingate, Beverley) on Tuesday 15th December 7.30: The Harri Watts Band, Knu, veggie pie and pea supper and a quiz - all for a fiver (£6 on the door). All welcome.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Visiting Christiania in Copenhagen

Yesterday we visited Christiania, an amazing example of alternative living. Look them up.

Leif's Seven Year Vigil

Today we met a guy Leif Poulsen, who has been on a daily anti war vigil outside of the Parliament for seven years, protesting against the Afghan war. He is in touch with Brian Haw and we said we'd show the photos to Brian.

Biking in Copenhagen

This morning we got a call from Peter Levy's team, asking for an interview on BBC Radio Humberside to talk about fining people who put the wrong stuff in their trash. So we went to the Copenhagen city department which looks after recycling to see what happens here - and took the call for the interview (as you can see).

By the time they rang, they had changed their mind and wanted to talk about proposals to make people pay to drive on motorways! Anyway we had an opportunity to say we were here for a European Green Party conference and how we had come by train, and how great the biking is here.

We took the opportunity to talk to their bike people and came away with all sorts of ideas and contacts for Hull and York.


Tuesday 6 October 2009

The cycle supporting the arms trade must stop

A Message from Hull and East Riding Green Party to BAE Systems

30 SEP 2009

The Greens have always worked for Justice and Fairness and we want to get this message across for the general election - as emphasised at our Conference.

Greens are batting for fairness for people and planet, for the workers, and no other party is doing that. Labour have failed dismally over the last 12 years.

Freedom and justice are worth fighting for. Unfairness in the UK is rife. Take the issue of recent unjust unwinnable wars - totally supported by Labour and Tories. Iraq has already been withdrawn from. Our Afghanistan resolution at Conference says we want an immediate withdrawal of all UK forces, withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, and a regional agreement with Afghanistan's neighbours (Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), together with Russia and China and the UN, to hold a peace conference with the aim of establishing a new Afghan government which will have the support of the Afghan people.

If the UK wants to deal with problems of refugees and alienation in our society we have to sort out our policies with our allies not only on Afghanistan but also Palestine, Somalia & the Horn of Africa.

In the context of a global reduction of war - which surely we all want - there will be a reduced need for armaments. At the moment there is a vicious cycle of political and economic pressure supporting the arms trade which supports war which supports the arms trade and so on. This cycle must stop.

Our policy is to redirect the valuable skills of the armaments industry towards progressive manufacturing - such as the complex machinery required to extract energy from the tides, the waves and of course wind.

As things stand, the UK has no manufacturing capacity in any of these areas, despite the fact that it’s a certainty that such technology needs to be on stream in a very short time. Despite the fact that the British Isles are very windy and surrounded by sea, there are zero turbines manufactured in Britain now.

The Vestas issue (600 jobs lost) illustrates the confusion successive governments have created. For decades it should have been clear that the UK should be developing and making alternative energy technology, low energy houses, trains, for example - and not buying from abroad. That's more important than an economy which is dependent on arms.

Other EU countries, including Germany, are making large scale joint investment in solar energy designed to harvest the energy in the north African Desert - an essential complement to the intermittent supply which wind energy on its own will provide. The UK is absent from this consortium.

But what does Government do? - In a policy supported by the Tories, it gives a £1 billion subsidy per year to the arms industry.

BAE is the main recipient of this subsidy, and yet BAE has already shed many hundreds of jobs in the region in the last two years. We are told there used to be 8,000 people working at Brough - now it’s 1650. As a single product manufacturer it is just as vulnerable as the car manufacturers at Cowley, Luton and Longbridge. BAE Brough, this key plant, will be the first to suffer if they're making something that no-one wants, and with no plans for retooling.

If there is a lessening of tension in the world - and let’s hope that there will be - are we ready to reap the benefit of any ‘peace dividend’? No. It seems that the old-style politicians in this country (aping the United States) lack imagination. They assume the economy needs continuing war and quest for oil, even though there is a sane, sensible and peaceful alternative.

The Green New Deal promotes green jobs, greening the economy, green energy, modifying existing houses, and public transport development. Greens would address financial injustice: eg. limit bankers’ bonuses and close down offshore tax havens, since tax evasion is, in effect, white-collar crime.

The Greens are clear about supporting ordinary people, workers, whilst challenging big business when it exploits people and planet.

Shan Oakes:

Parliamentary candidate for Haltemprice and Howden

Tel: 01482 862085 / 07769 607710

Thursday 6 August 2009

Green challenger achieves 25% in Beverley by-election

St Mary's Ward West, parish by-election, East Riding of Yorkshire Council

A great many thanks to everyone for the substantial Green vote on July 30th. We scored just under 25% and came a good second to the Conservatives. There was a 24% turnout, so-so for a ward by-election, and all the results were as follows:

CON - 331 - 41%
GRE - 199 - 25%
IND - 144 - 18%
LD - 128 - 16%

With best wishes,
Charlie Jones-Lewis

Tremendously well done Charlie!
We look forward to more scores like that across the country!

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Beverley by-election: Vote Green!

If you would like to help get Charlie elected contact us on 01482 862085.

With strong communities we can do anything!

Making stronger, more vibrant communities.

Friday 26 June 2009

St Mary's West parish by-election, Beverley

St Mary's West parish by-election.

Leafleting for this will be 15-17 July.
Get in touch if you can lend a hand: 01482 862085.

Candidate: Charlaine Jones-Lewis

See Charlie's Campaign Blog here.

The next Green Party Meeting will be on Thursday 9th July, at 7.30pm in Nellie's, side room.


Thursday 18 June 2009

Charlie Jones-Lewis selected for St Mary's West

We are very pleased to announce that Charlaine Jones-Lewis will stand for the Green Party in the Beverley byelection on July 30th.

See Charlie's blog here:

Charlie has lived and worked in Beverley for some years. She has a growing interest in how local communities grow whether it's play areas for kids, or where a hospital may be sited or how an area looks and feels.

We look forward to her plans for St Mary's West.

Monday 1 June 2009

Shan Oakes talks about windpower on Look North

Shan Oakes (audio), BBC Look North

  • We must move on from coal as major energy producer
  • Wind could actually supply 3x UK energy needs
  • Whole range of renewable energy needed
  • Need better communication with local communities on issue
  • Major investment needed now
  • Reductions in energy we use
  • Government must commit to this.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Shan Oakes campaigns for Europe at Friends of the Earth Northern Gathering

- Shan Oakes pictured with Andy Atkins, Director of Friends of the Earth.

The Northern Gathering of Friends of the Earth was held in Manchester this weekend.

I was there, full on campaigning for Europe and it was great to spend so much time with friends and allies in FOE.

We had a good input on climate change and workshops on loads of things.

Bill did his pieces for Marinet and the Marine Bill going through Parliament. Latest figures show complete declines in all the major fish stocks.

Again and again we see what a huge impact we have on the planet.

The campaign for Europe is in full swing now. We've had Mark Thomas endorse us last month, Salma Yaqoob and the Respect Party throw their weight behind us on May 4th, Jonathon Porritt too, and Tony Juniper - the former Director of FOE - is now going to stand for Parliament for us at the next general election.

The huge sleaze revelations are disgusting. It's all across the major parties in the Commons. People expect more from their MPS - and have every right to!

We really need a Green MEP in Yorkshire! We really need Greens in Westminster! Please get out there and help us do it!


Friday 17 April 2009

'Supersizing' schools and community

In response to John Roberts’ article about ‘supersize’ schools (Dec, Yorkshire Post), I should like to make one or two observations.

I do not think children’s experience of school is dependent on the size of the school per se, although I agree that children respond well to ‘being known’ - which is usually easier to achieve in a smaller institution . Whether a school is successful is dependent, in my experience (as a former teacher, parent and former officer in local education authorities), on the quality of relationships both within the school and between the school and the community.

I have just spent a morning as a guest at Kingswood, a secondary school in Hull, with Year seven. The children couldn’t have been better behaved or more engaged and thoughtful. I was very impressed. What I noticed was the mutual respect and good humour which was evident between staff and students, and the politeness and good listening skills of the students. In addition to a high respect factor, I understand that Year 7 is organised in such a way that students do more discussion and project work than is usual in secondary schools, and I suspect that this allows for a more relaxed and student-led approach to learning than the usual dominance of ‘subjects’.

When students (of any age) are allowed to learn about things which interest them, and at their own pace, they learn faster and more effectively. This is why we need to remove from our schools the frenetic drive for pressure to ‘perform.’ The well-known struggle to reach state-imposed subject ‘targets’ often becomes a barrier preventing staff and students from acknowledging and respecting each other as people. The school scenario becomes dominated by stress and competition with many falling behind in the race and feeling disaffected and disgruntled.

Many children come to school with huge personal issues which are rarely addressed due to the time pressure created by ‘state’ obligations. A Green education, on the other hand, would be child-centred, firmly based in the community but also looking outwards to the rest of the world, and founded on respect for each individual and his or her unique contribution.

Shan Oakes

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Greens: more jobs per mile!

  • 200 jobs created
  • £4.5 million saved on people's bills a year
  • £150 average reduction in fuel bills per year
Right now we're facing three crises: the recession, climate change and ‘peak’ resources. All need urgent action and only the Green Party offers policies that are high in jobs and low in consumption, to tackle all three in one go.

For example, it's Green Party councillors in Huddersfield who have led the way in providing free insulation for homes. This does three things all at once: it cuts pollution, creates local jobs and saves people hundreds of pounds a year on fuel bills. Average bills are down £150 a year per home making a huge dent in fuel poverty. Kirklees Council is saving people £4.5 million a year - and created about 200 jobs locally.

Green policies like clean energy, better public transport, good local food and modernised homes, bring more jobs per megawatt, per mile and per tonne.

Some people might try to tell you our problems are caused by immigration. But it wasn’t immigrants who caused the credit crunch, or the recession or the climate crisis, so don’t be fooled.

We need strong, supportive, elected representatives putting genuine Green policies into practice.
And we need them on local councils, in Westminster - and in Europe.

Shan Oakes

Monday 6 April 2009

Discussing the Shore at Shores

I attended a meeting at the Shores Centre in Withernsea on Friday about coastal erosion and offshore dredging. Local residents feel that the dredging is speeding up coastal erosion, so Graham Stuart MP had asked several aggregate producers to be there with their charts and exhibits – which included woolly mammoth tusks and other fossils. About 60 people turned out on a blustery cold evening.

The aggregates representatives explained the high demand for and the origins of the sands and gravels. Residents said that the beaches and cliffs were rapidly disappearing. Reference was made to the village of Hallsands in Devon which was completely swept away after dredging had removed a gravel bank out at sea. A local fisherman, who spends 8 hours a day off Spurn, described how dredging ‘left everything dead – just broken starfish.’ The silt kills shellfish in the pots. He said the sands and gravels are nurseries for shellfish. East coast fishermen are getting together as the dredging is putting them out of business.

Bill Rigby from Marinet gave an impassioned speech about the effects of aggregate removal on the marine ecosystem. He said that the whole food chain is affected and the consequences are unknown as the areas being dredged are the ancient stony river beds which have sheltered marine life for thousands of years. They cannot ever fully recover.

Prof Mike Cowling, a representative of the Crown Estate, was also present. He said that the coast has been receding for thousands of years and what we see is just a small snapshot in time. A local town councillor retorted, ‘But it’s our moment in time’. The Crown Estate receives a royalty for every tonne dredged (£17.7 million in 07/08). Although much of this revenue goes to the Treasury, many people seemed to feel that it was not surprising that Prof Cowling saw no problem with the dredging. Professor Mike Elliott of the Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies at Hull University also seemed to feel that observed changes were only natural.

My contribution was to point out that we all have a responsibility to reduce the demand for gravel and sand. We can stop putting gravel on our gardens for a start. Grass or vegetables are better for averting flooding, better on the eye and the purse. We can live without more airport runways and roads. We can relearn to build our houses with renewable materials such as straw bales – which are cheap to build and have excellent insulation value. We need a joined up approach to coastal management which involves listening to local people. We need Green policies which are not based on ‘growth’ but on life: policies which are not swayed by vested interests, corporations, or funding for weapons and wars.

Shan Oakes

Sunday 29 March 2009

Green Party surveys Brigg farmers' market

Green Party members came to Brigg farmers' market on Saturday to seek shoppers' views on food.

There was a warm welcome for us in Brigg and the farmers' market had a huge range of goods, all local produce from local businesses, just the sorts of things we want to promote.

The market shoppers were concerned about all the major food and farming issues. There was a high level of concern about animal welfare, use of pesticides, and food additives. People were very suspicious about the food giants and government trying to push GM crops on us.

School meals came in for some criticism with a number agreeing with the Green Party that they should be free and of high quality. However hospital food fared much worse, drawing heavy criticism. One woman who had had a hip and knee operation told how she couldn't wait to get home and cook herself a three course meal - while still on crutches.

Visiting the farmers' market was a very positive experience. We heard many interesting views and got some new ideas from people and we'll try to get some of those into national policy.

If Brigg shoppers all vote in the European elections in June, we will be very happy with the result! We hope to visit the Market again

The farmers' market in Brigg is the fourth Saturday of the month. The next area farmers' market is Sunday April 5th at the Humber Bridge Viewing Area.

Our survey results are below


No concern - slightly concerned - very concerned.

Animal Welfare 1, 5,16

Pesticides on food 5, 4,15

Additives in food 1,4,15

GM food 5,5,13

Intensive livestock farming 1, 4,13

Food waste 0,6,12

Food miles 1, 8,9

Supermarkets v local shops 2, 4, 9

Hospital meals 2,3, 8

Meat / dairy consumption 10,12,7

Intensive crop farming 6, 3, 6

School meals 3, 4, 4

Friday 20 February 2009

They’ll be talking about ‘green’ weapons next

How mad is it when BAE systems can brag about ‘good growth’! They’ll be talking about ‘green’ weapons next.

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that BAE growth (of any but a Green kind!) means more and deadlier weapons being let loose on the world so the news that their profits almost doubled is troubling indeed. And what do they mean by ‘organic’ growth I wonder – warheads made without petrochemicals perhaps?!

When will BAE start to turn its skills to the manufacture of really useful equipment such as solar, wind and other renewable energy technology, or low carbon vehicles (and I don’t mean military ones)?

The main thing we need to beat in the 21st Century is swords into ploughshares. All this aggressive behaviour is so last Century.

How can we continue sabre rattling when the human race and all other species on the planet are threatened with extinction? Let’s get over it and start working together …And no, it’s not idealistic. You can’t say one thing and do another and expect anyone else to have any respect for you.

Shan Oakes


MEP candidate for Europe 2009

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Education Education Education!

‘Human history is more and more a race between education and catastrophe’ said H G Wells.

Do you think education is winning the race? A meeting to discuss this big question was organised by the Hull and East Riding Green Party last Monday in the King William pub, Cottingham.

Bill Rigby introduced the evening explaining that education has only developed into a major industry in recent history. Once, humans were forest creatures, but as populations grew we got into agriculture in the Middle East, about 8,000 years ago. The increased productivity allowed us to create governments and cities - and war. Cities made commerce and trade more necessary.

British government involvement in education stems from the 1870 Education Act.

The school Curriculum started off with the only compulsory component being Religious Education. Second to this came PE - in response to the state’s need for men to be strong enough to carry guns. Third came Home Economics - the need for nutrition to keep people healthy ( and wage war!)

Education became the means for the next generation to be readied for work. It was necessary to make the present social system work. So all our schools, colleges and universities have developed to replenish the personnel necessary to current society, and now we pay huge taxes for education.

However, the world has changed. We now see that we need to work cooperatively instead of competitively both at local and international levels. Einstein said – a fundamental problem cannot be solved with the same understanding that gave rise to it. Bill asked: If we’ve identified the need for a different society, how do we get there given we’re trained for this one?

The ensuing discussion included the following points: much education is about inculcation, formation and training. Instead, education should focus on questions such as ‘Who am I, what am I?’

Mainstream education creates codependency.

School tends to teach you that you learn only in school. Jackie challenges this as she home educates her children. This is a growing movement across Britain. She said, ‘my four year old daughter, at home, was just naturally learning, soaking things up.’

Colin pointed out that schools have lots of problems: bullying, peer pressure, truancy. Many kids are frightened, put off, alienated, by the whole thing. Now we have students being told not to use wikipedia – the biggest encyclopedia in the world.

A young woman said that school is training you. But it’s not actually teaching you how to live in society. A school student said a lot really depends on which teacher you have. Students are not taught to challenge. A teacher said, ‘I take the opportunity, in social sciences, to talk about Marcuse and Marx, and give students the tools to criticise capitalist society: give them solid critical skills.’

Diana thought that it would be healthier to mix age groups more, and Colin commented that the Scandinavian model regards play as central to learning.

Since the 1980s Thatcher, and her offspring, Blair and Brown, have got into the micro-control of education. Paul pointed out that in Scotland there are no league tables nor SATs. (SATs originate in America). Scotland has only one teaching union, unlike England which has several, which means it is possible to divide and rule the teaching profession.

Bill said the English system is one of complete conformity. When SATs were introduced, all 24,000 schools dutifully returned their SATs scores.

Shan said that this system has spread across the world. She quoted a director of Education in Uganda who called the western model of education ‘Education for Stupidification”. Uganda’s current model is based on the British education system and Uganda gets most of its education budget from DFID.

Shan said there is a huge difference between what we want for our child and what the state wants for them. Paul qualified this by saying that people are very heavily conditioned by our current materialistic culture.

Jackie felt many of the parents just collude with the system and say, “you’ve got to go , it’s good for you.”

Education is DONE to us! It should be ‘owned’ by the community.

What do you think?!! Write us your comments.

Local Jobs for Local Workers.

Green Party candidates support the Lindsey Oil Refinery protesters who are calling for Local Jobs for Local Workers.

Shan Oakes of Beverley, and Leslie Rowe of Richmond, North Yorkshire, today both call for an enquiry into discrimination against local workers.

Shan Oakes, the former Howden & Haltemprice by-election candidate, said, "As Greens we support the rights of British workers to protest.

"Whether in Killingholme, Dimlington or Saltend, workers around the Humber have a right to demand fair treatment for local people. We challenge the EU on its bias in favour of big business at the expense of local businesses and local workers."

Leslie Rowe, Parliamentary candidate for Richmond, North Yorkshire, says, "The EU single market is about the freedom of workers to apply for jobs anywhere in Europe on a level playing field. It's not about the rights of multinationals to undercut local pay rates and exploit workers.

"Unlike Gordon Brown and New Labour, as Greens we call for a programme to defend jobs and working conditions across the European Union. The EU should support local collective agreements across Europe."

"The Green Party must also question the sustainability of moving large numbers of workers hundreds of miles to do work that local people can do just as well.

"It is unlikely that the contractor IREM is paying these workers the same as local workers. The Government should demand IREM open their books and publish the exact terms of the subcontracts.

"A sustainable future relies on supporting local business and local workers. Unlike the Labour Party, the Green Party supports local workers and we are proud to do so."


Yorkshire & the Humber Green Party

Leslie Rowe, Richmond, North Yorkshire

Shan Oakes, Beverley, East Yorkshire