Thursday 29 December 2011

Oil drilling : Yorkshire Wolds

Letter to Beverley Guardian:      ' Oil's not well on the Wolds '
We wrote  to object in the strongest possible terms to East Riding Council regarding proposals for oilprospecting on the Yorkshire Wolds.  The Green Party,  alongwith  Friends of the Earth (FOE) and other well-respected organisations,  campaign, on the basis of careful research,  for  developmentand  use of renewable energy and fuel conservation instead of the furtherexploitation of fossil fuels.   We havehad a century’s addiction to oil  - and we must now wean ourselvesoff this addiction, as oil becomes harder and harder to find and toextract.  There are excellent alternatives which must be embraced insteadof resisted.

Since the use of oil is clearly contradictory to CO2reduction,  permission for exploratorydrilling should neverbe granted on those grounds alone.  In addition,  the Wolds are andshould be considered  an area of outstanding natural  beauty,and should not be subjected to blots on the landscape such as filthy, noisy,smelly, toxic  and brightly  lit oil extraction plants.  Windturbines would be far preferable in all respects...andat least, with those, you can SEE what is going on.  Mining and drillingunderground is particularly dangerous because it can have unexpectedconsequences:    ‘ fracking’  was apparently responsiblefor an earth tremor in the Blackpool area.  Underground water courses canbecome adulterated .  If this exploration were to be  ‘successful’ the resource would be drained and then the company would move on todespoil other sites, leaving a wasteland behind.  Unfortunately, the lure ofthe huge profits for the companies and their partners leads to them workingvery hard to get agreement for this appalling activity.  Think of mountain top removal for coal  in the United States.  Where will it end?  How can industrial activity of this kind becontemplated in the Wolds?  There ARE alternatives – as usual, we have tochoose.

The ludicrously short timescale of ‘consultation’ in thiscase is yet another cause for concern. It suggests that both the Council and  the company concerned have little regard for local residents’ views.  Residents in nearby villages receivedletters only two or three days before the initialplanning meeting (at which the decision was deferred). 

To allow this proposal for oil prospecting to go ahead wouldbe a gross abnegation of responsibility on the part of ERY Council, both in relationto current citizens and to future generations, so please let your electedrepresentatives (both in the Council and Parliament) know your feelings on thisissue.

Shan Oakes
Green Party
Hull and East Riding

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Letter to Ugandan President Museveni

I am joining Friends of the Earth Uganda (NAPE) in their campaign to protect Uganda's unique heritage.

 We lived in Uganda for a few years (2001-4) and saw how beautiful it is  - although we were aware of how much of it had already been deforested. Please don't be tricked into ruining your wonderful country for another short term commercial modernist 'solution'.

We visited the Ssesse Islands and know that they are a fantastic tourism resource - but not if they are turned into monoculture plantations (the products of which are boycotted by growing numbers of people). Please support permaculture instead.

 Please consider the long term future and the integrity of the age-old respect humans had for the land.  Monocultures are dangerous - we need to protect biodiversity. At last many people are beginning to realise this (but our politicians do not as they are blinkered by vested interests)

We live in the UK and this country has been thoroughly despoiled by too much 'development'.  The grassroots is now trying, through the Transition movement (now taking off worldwide), to relearn the old values which are not just about profit.  

Please also see the international Earth Charter which lists the values and principles we need for a sustainable world.

In Uganda you know what it is to fight against oppression; this commercial oppression must be opposed.  Please stand up for what's right.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Letter to Beverley Guardian - hypocrisy

Dear Sir,

A meeting has been called in Beverley  this Friday 25thNov at 2pm  about increasing homelessness and  lack of jobs in thearea (for detail call  874096).  Considering the ConDem policies ofblaming/punishing the poor (by cutting public services and pensions)  forthe sins and greed of the banks  and corporations ,  it’s a bit richthat our MP has expressed concern about the issues and may attend thismeeting.  Unfortunately we can’t be there,  but if we were, we wouldbe asking him exactly how he thinks that his turbo-capitalist policies aregoing to help.   It’s the government’s job to understand the bigpicture and act accordingly….but all it is doing is promoting business asusual.  It’s repeating the mistakes of the 1930s.   It’s so tiedin with the toxic financial, commercial, energy and military ‘establishment’ that it can’t accept that things have to change radicallynow (in light of the crises in oil, most other resources, climate,  economy,ecology and society)  to promote  local economies and localsustainability – as in the Transition Towns initiative ( and there is now alocal group) and explained by the Green Party deputy leader  next ThursdayDec 1st at Norwood Methodist Church, 7.30pm.   

The Government will say it is trying to promote ‘growth’ (iesupporting the CITY of London,  big business and more globalisation - the very things responsible for global physical and economic overheating, wars for resources, arms proliferation,  etc.)  It isblinkered,  to say the least.     Einsteinsaid:     ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kindof thinking we used when we created them’.  We are overdue for a big(positive and exciting) change in our thinking.

We do hope that others will make these points at the meeting   (as well as trying to find ways to patch up the expandingholes in the local economy and services)

Shan Oakes
East Riding  Green Party

Wednesday 2 November 2011

St Pauls and the protest

Dear St Paul’s ,

Congratulations on coming to thedecision  not to invoke legal means against the protesters. 

Anyone who thinks at all aboutwhat’s going wrong (worldwide) can see that the protesters are right and arespeaking up for people and planet against the destructive and overweening power of the banks and their ilk - which have squatted for too long in theCity,  silently manipulating the policy of this country - with enormousand terrible global impact.  

This is a critical moment inthis planet’s history,  and St Paul’s is centre stage.  I’m not aChristian (because I think religions divide people),  but  I admireJesus the man for standing up for the weak, the poor and for justice.  Ithink it’s very clear which side Jesus would be on in the current conflict...

Surely now is the time forreligions to stand together, be brave and clear,  and tell the world offinance with its parasitical pawn politicians  what they think ofit.  For a start, David Cameron should do a U turn and, against the City’swishes,  support the ‘Robin Hood ‘  tax on financialtransactions.  How can this country hold its head up when our primeminister won’t even climb onto the moral high ground in Europe?


Shan Oakes
Beverley, East Yorkshire

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Ithaca - solar panels

Vathy,  the capital of Ithaca, the legendary  home of Odysseus - lots of solar water fittings.  Lovely place too!

Waking up to Greece!

We slept on the sofas and awoke (Sept 15th) as we wended our way between Ithaca and the mainland, heading for Patra on the Peloponnese.  We had a rendezvous with granddaughters on the Ionian islands (hence the trip),  but the ferries had stopped running directly to the islands as the season was over, hence going via Patra

Brindisi - ferry to Greece

Arrived Brindisi 4 ish and wandered onto the ferry.  It was a party atmosphere on board, and a warm, beautiful evening.

Train to Brindisi

Bill : early morning at Milan station on way to Brindisi.  We'd arrived on the sleeper from Paris and been treated to a most welcome espresso and pastry by Sylvain whom we'd  met and spent the night with (in the 6 berth compartment!)  We stretched our legs walking round the front of the station just before sunrise and I actually saw a rabbit dart between bushes and railings!

Young Greens - Sept Conference

Shan with Ash  Haynes and and Kieran Anderson of Young Greens at Green Party Conference, Sheffield Hallam University,  Sept 12th.

baby blackbird in hydrangea

One of this year's brood from a nest in our honeysuckle. It was a rainy day in early september and, as seems to happen at this time of year, there was a spate of wild and frenzied bird activity.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Biodiversity Man

Guy Wallbanks at the Friends of the Earth Northern Gathering in July at Haworth Youth Hostel

Tuesday 6 September 2011

State schools 'not providing group worship'

'Many state schools in England are not providing group worship, despite legislation making it a requirement, a survey suggests. The Comres survey for BBC local radio found 64% of the 500 parents questioned said their child did not attend daily acts of collective worship. 60% of the 1,743 adults asked said the legislation should not be enforced.'

I agree with them and have felt this for a long time. To me, enforcing ‘worship’ is appalling and this aspect should be separated from the activities it is linked with. The activities such as getting together and story telling (as long as the stories come from all over the world), and singing are great, but not enforced ‘worship’! If we got rid of this ludicrous element in schools, there would be no need to start all the various faith schools.

Here’s my secular version of that well known hymn (my favourite when I was small), All things bright and beautiful:

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, we must care for them all….

Thursday 11 August 2011

riots (letter to local press)

Looking at TV film of riots in cities around England, we need to ask ourselves what sort of society has led to this sorry state of affairs. No one can condone the violence, looting and arson, but we do need to ask ourselves questions such as: Does our society value and promote peace and cooperation or does it value and promote war and acquisition of goods and status for the few? If the answer is the latter, then we should not be surprised at the violent and acquisitive behaviour of (a tiny minority of) young people.

The gulf between rich and poor in the UK is deeper than ever. Is this what we want? Inequality leads to unhappiness for all, both rich and poor. I have called on our local MP, Mr Stuart, to take a message to the emergency recall of Parliament that we need a real and careful review of what sort of society we want . What values does our society promote? If it promotes war (trade in arms etc), and a focus on consumer goods (‘growth’- on an exhausted planet) it will get just that, so we can only expect increasingly anti-social and fearful behaviour from everyone, particularly our young people.

Another world IS possible – but we will have to decide to make it happen. We need to really consider what we really want for ourselves and for our children.


Shan Oakes

Green Party

Monday 1 August 2011

Diversity : bio and cultural

Diversity, whether bio or cultural, is key to sustainability. Monoculture is destructive of sustainability.

These photos were taken in my garden and its quite a wildlife haven (in the middle of a town). It runs on home-made compost, self seeded plants, and absolutely no pesticides or other poisons.

Yes, the 'lawn' has buttercups and daisies and other plants in it, but I prefer that to a pristine over-managed garden which depends on hours of labour or regular dousing with chemicals.

I use the garden as a metaphor for politics. Green political theory values cultural diversity because it's enriching, progressive and self-organising. Different perspectives inform each other which promotes healthy social progress. The opposite, where cultures are kept apart, leads to prejudice, isolation and antipathy, a blinkered view of the world, and, ultimately, war. What could be more destructive?

Friday 29 July 2011

school veg patch

Here's an impressive veg patch at a primary school in south London...this should be a major part of the curriculum in my view. If we continue bringing kids up to think that food is made in supermarkets we're super-stuffed.

Friday 8 July 2011

East Riding Council at it again

East Riding Council insists on behaving like Big Brother. This time it's harrassing a kitchen firm who have made an advertising board to fit the back of a bicycle. What about all the vans with their ads on the side? ERYC (and all 'authorities') should be supporting the bike culture. If only ERYC would get its aims straightened out: are they trying to make the world a better place or what? Yes, you're right - it's lack of vision and short-term money-grubbing as usual.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Gardening - East Yorkshire

I've been doing some gardening for a change - At least the neglect attracts wildlife... lots of frogs around, and a woodpecker (lesser spotted) turned up in the garden for the first time ever. There are birds nesting in every conceivable bushy bit. Have decided not to use lawn mower in future as its noisy and wastes energy - much nicer having a straggly lawn blending seemlessly with the edges...

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Local election and Electoral reform - or not

Bill and I received around 900 votes each, with Michael Jackson in Nafferton getting ca 950 - well done Mike! Locally it was a Toryfest as usual but even more now in ERYC, so there is virtually no opposition - what a disaster for all of us and the environment. Until we get a new voting system we're destined to continue with good numbers but not enough to get elected....and meanwhile the Tories are destroying the few safeguards we have.

On the bright side, the Greens did well nationally, picking up seats even against the odds

Letter to Graham Stuart MP

Dear Graham,
We were not impressed with the general arrogance of the Conservatives at the election count. You should also be aware that several of our Yes to AV and Green Party signs (correctly placed) near polling stations were mysteriously removed.

However, the main reason for me contacting you is that I understand the government is considering rejecting the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. This doesn't fit with promises to be the "greenest government ever".... Or does the Conservative Party know something the rest of the world does not know?

Please can you write urgently to the Prime Minister and ask him to accept the advice of the Committee on Climate Change in full. That has to include accepting their recommendations for future targets. If we are serious about tackling climate change, we have to bring down emissions at the rate which the scientists say is necessary.

It is unacceptable to argue that these changes to the targets should be made for reasons of short term economic necessity. If you are really green, you have to look at the big picture - long term.

Shan Oakes

Monday 2 May 2011

A tip for politicians

When life seems hard - see above (statue with no name on Beckside), get yourself into the nearest hostelry and find some allies!!

Why I like doing politics (2)

This was baby Joshua's christening party at the Forester's pub on Beckside - the family invited us in and it was great fun as you can see - we drank a toast to 5 month old Joshua and it was a really lovely occasion. Thank you Joshua's family for these fantastic photos. Loved it!

What I don't like about politics (1)

The worst thing about this job is when people just aren't interested. You can't really blame them. One reason is the ridiculous 'first past the post' electoral system we currently have in this country which means that most people's vote doesn't count. However, I want to remind them that democracy may not be perfect but it's the best system humans have thought of so far for running our affairs and it's precious so we should participate. People have died for the vote, and in other parts of the world people are still dying for it. When people say 'I'm alright thanks' (meaning 'I'm not interested') I have to move away quickly before I say something I'll regret, like, 'You call this state of affairs alright then, do you?....Don't you care about your children?'...etc.

Anyway - all the more reason to vote Yes to AV because it will mean that our votes actually count.

Why I like doing politics (1)

The best thing about canvassing is the people you meet. I met a woman I used to teach years ago in Beverley. She said she had hoped to see me because she wanted to tell me something: apparently i had said to her (when I was manning a stall, some time after we had both left school) that the school system does not serve a lot of people well because it is too focussed on academic results, so that less 'academic' kids feel like failures. She had been one of those people - always in trouble. Apparently my comment had helped her decide to do a course at Hull Uni which she is really enjoying. This made my day.

I also met a woman last saturday whom I'd taught in Hull in 1975 and we were both amazed that her name came straight to me....weird but true. She said she had seen me on TV. I was able to apologise for all the stuff I must have got wrong in my first teaching job (I'm only 7 years older than she is) but she kindly said I was a nice teacher... Another really lovely encounter, and if I wasn't doing this job it wouldn't have happened .

Election canvassing feedback

Some comments we've had:

'not interested thanks'.

'what do you think of beer prices?'...
'we think landlords are being exploited by the big breweries.'..
'Oh do you?..well i'll be voting for you then.'

'we're the lot fighting vested interests which are poisoning the world'..
'That sounds good - I like that.'

'Yes - give me a vote green poster - i want to annoy my neighbour!'

'Im alright thanks'.

'Yes i'll vote for you - I'm not voting for any of them others'.

'That's a mint bike - give us a poster for the window'

Sunday 1 May 2011

Saturday in Beverley

Saturday in Beverley- we had an especially good response to our 'Cut pay to fat cats not jobs in public services - all Tories out' poster.

New local Party mascot

This snake looks happy to have found a new home. She was languishing on a charity stall a few minutes previously. You are welcome to send suggestions for a name for her.


I've sent in my postal vote and my Yes to AV. Although AV isn't perfect, it's far better than FPTP (which we have at the moment) because every vote will count. It's a step in the right direction. The people wanting to keep FPTP are the Tories, the right wing of the Labour party and the BNP. The No campaign reasons are ridiculous. They seem to assume that people are completely stupid and can't count to 3. A lot of money has been poured into the No campaign. If this country decides to continue with FPTP we will deserve what we will get - more of the same dire politics.

Spring - and Green posters - busting out all over

Lots of people are putting up Green posters. Lots of support for the ' stop the cuts' campaign.

Kids campaigning for a better world

Kids are green. We know this as we've done research on it. They want a good and fair world. So we have no compunction about roping the kids in to campaigning!

FAQ: So how did you get to Budapest?

We went by North Sea ferries from Hull to Rotterdam (overnight).
We were struck by the contrast between Hull and Rottm in terms of wind turbines: Hull has one visible from the ship - and this pic is of Rotterdam dock. We then took trains to Munich and a sleeper train to Budapest. The photo of recycling bins was taken on a station - Dusseldorf I think.

Bike tour of Budapest - European Greens

The Hungarian greens took a few of us around their beautiful city showing us the political scenery: arts centres which had been rescued by the people, squares dominated by big business interests, recycling points which are as yet little used.

European Greens in Budapest

A guy in breathing apparatus just happened to be passing and joined in with our demonstration against the use of nuclear energy in the wake of Fukushima - on the bank of the Danube