Wednesday 27 January 2010

Campaigning in Cottingham in the rain

A bit of multi-tasking here: we wanted to do some campaigning, and needed to take some pics for our General Election Freepost leaflet, so invited passers by to join us and choose a poster to be seen with - we really enjoyed it despite the rain. The dogs were camera-shy.

Imagine the old parties doing this - would they get people to stand by them with posters saying, 'Let's buy a new Trident missile' or 'Privatise the NHS' or 'Support Big Corporations' or 'Send more soldiers to war'?!!!

It's good being Green because our policies make sense.

fungus on apple tree

Beautiful fungus on an old apple tree - an example of awesome biodiversity!

Chagos crisis - sign up now!

Since last November, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been running a consultation on a proposal to set up a marine reserve around the Chagos Islands. The image here is borrowed from the FCO literature.

The consultation is due to close on 12 February 2010.

Greenpeace and others are organising an on line petition to persuade the FCO to set up a reserve. This petition has an endorsement from Professor Callum Roberts.

Two recent news stories add background to the issues. The Guardian on 27 January gives a gallery of images, and includes a piece by Tony Juniper, where he says “Protecting the Chagos archipelago is a rare opportunity for the UK to create a conservation area as important as the Galapagos islands or Great Barrier Reef”. The story also makes clear that the consultation process has excluded the inhabitants of Diego Garcia, evicted by the British to make way for a US air base years ago. The bloggers are making hay discussing the politics and the conservation issues. A lot of heat & only a little light.

However, The Times in an article on 22 January adds another twist, by pointing out that “ A company belonging to the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser is opposing plans to create the world’s biggest marine reserve. His company holds a government contract to manage fishing in the area, which would be banned if the reserve were created”

Murky waters - indeed. It appears that the CSA himself and a whole range of officials cannot see a vested interest, even if it slaps them in the face.

Please sign the petition NOW!

Saturday 23 January 2010

Norwood House - another move

The planning decision last Monday prompted a piece in the Yorkshire Post on 22 Jan (see Shan's Blog). This, in turn, led Radio Humberside to ring us for a quote. I duly obliged.
Revisiting an old stamping ground in this piece the Beverley Guardian published on Friday. Tread carefully, though!

Climate change in Beverley - whatever next?

This could have been drafted better, but we are pleased that the Beverley Guardian published it this week. An incentive to us to organise an event

Norwood House Campaign takes a new twist

Our long running campaign to keep Norwood House as a community resource was helped by the Planning Committee refusing a change of use to offices last Monday, 18 January. The Yorkshire Post followed up the story and latched on to the fact that we have referred the whole matter of the sale to the Ombudsman. The story above was published on Friday 22.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

I sent this to the BBC 'send us a story' site today:

The Greens take issue with the Tories’ elitist approach to teaching and learning. Tories, typically, would assume that a good teacher is a commodity: they can be ‘made’ and ‘bought’.

The Greens have a different view. We would say that a good teacher is someone who likes and can communicate with children, and this quality cannot be measured by academic means. A good teacher is not necessarily someone who is ‘academic’.

The assumption that more pay will attract ‘the best’ teachers is also at fault - but this is the attitude we would expect from the Tories. A committed teacher will not be ‘bought’.

What the Tories, and the other ‘grey’ parties fail to understand, is that the aims of ‘education’ need a fundamental rethink. It’s not ‘bad’ or ‘good’ teachers that are the issue, but outdated assumptions underpinning our education system. The Greens advocate education which develops the whole child: learning to be, to do, to know and to live together (as recommended by UNESCO), rather than the ‘jumping through hoops’ style of education which we have all become used to and which causes such havoc.

You can't win them all

Reeling from the news about Norwood House, we went to the budget meeting of the Beverley Town Council. This time it was me making a presentation - attempting to persuade the Council to think again with plans for yet another Armed Forces Day in the summer.

My three minutes did not hit the button (note: learn more about simple rhetoric), and I wasted my breath. £12000 of our money has been voted to support this recruiting effort for the military!

I hear a campaign rumbling.

Eastern Area Planning Committee

We arrived on Monday afternoon in good time to attend the planning meeting which was to determine the future of Norwood House. The doors were jammed with people from Leven, there to object to a development proposal in their village. Soon after this stern shot was taken, they were jubilant with the news that the application had been refused. We were not so sanguine, fearing an acceptance for the proposal to turn Norwood House into offices.

Our advocate, Prof John Wilton Ely, had three minutes to convince the committee to reject. And that is just what they did!
'Gob smacked' is the word

Friday 15 January 2010

...and finally

Then we were invaded by a group eager to demonstrate - on every issue!

A very rewarding session.

My thanks to those who came to chat - their good humour and obvious concern for important issues.

campaign trail 3

Others came, anxious to make a point

campaign trail 2

Then we met a lady with her friend from Copenhagen, supporters of our mission for peace.

on the campaign trail

Earlier in the week we went in search of someone who would express support for some of the key Green slogans. A miserable, blustery day was enlivened by a series of encounters.

The first was a baby (sheltered in the pram), who let his mum pose for a shot.

Thursday 14 January 2010

letter to the editor

The Beverley Guardian is read by a high proportion of local people. We were therefore pleased when the editor this week included our comment on the 'performance' by a local politician at the local hunt on Boxing Day.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Ice and no action from council

I sent this letter to the Beverley Guardian today....

East Riding residents say the icy roads and pavements are a disgrace. Driffield, for example, has been even worse than Beverley. I've spoken to officers of East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) and they say they treat 38% of the road network on a precautionary basis and an additional 12% on a ‘responsive’ basis, but little or no funding is allocated for cul-de-sacs or pavements. Meanwhile the injuries are mounting - along with all their pain, cost and inconvenience. A&E in Hull has had ‘unprecedented’ numbers of injuries and has been forced to send people on elsewhere for surgery.

The ice issue is yet another example of ERYC’s poor record in deciding on sensible and humane priorities. ERYC seems to have priorities other than residents' welfare and safety - or surely there would be plans in place for emergency situations such as this? It should be a priority to enable people to get out of their houses. There's job potential too. Plenty of people would have been pleased with some seasonal paid work clearing smaller footpaths. Maybe there is a lack of ‘special vehicles’, or maybe health and safety regulation is being allowed to get in the way of common sense? Whatever the reason, there’s no excuse for leaving residents trapped at home or risking serious injury by going out. It’s the Council’s job to sort this.

But it’s a political decision - and ERYC is Tory-dominated. Do we want to see more neglect of public service and cost-cutting in the future? It’s ironic in this context that Graham Stuart (Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness) talks of care of those who are ‘elderly, frail or lonely’ – the very people who have been frozen into their homes. Green politicians, whether on local councils, in Westminster, or in Europe, prioritise safety and welfare. For example, there are 7 Green City Councillors in Oxford, where ‘all the main roads and pavements are gritted’ (quoted from your article last week).

Let’s have more sense and fairness instead of hidebound political thinking in pursuit of ‘targets’…and empty rhetoric.

Sincerely, Shan Oakes Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Haltemprice and Howden