Sunday, 19 October 2014

Owen Paterson MP - Not nice but definitely dim

He's a millionaire, ex public schoolboy, climate change denying and a former Tory Environment Minister so I wasn't expecting much from him when he was interviewed on BBC Radio 4s Today Programme last week. Out of the stream of illogical drivel he came out with one statement he made stood out. It was the claim that renewable energy technologies "don't work". It was a bizarre claim that could only be based on ignorance or prejudice but most likely both. If he was right and renewables didn't work then they wouldn't just not work in the UK they wouldn't work anywhere. Of course climate, topography and latitude will all play a part so the UKs wind, tidal, solar and hydro resource give us a huge advantage over many other EU countries. We are however doing very poorly compared with our European neighbours. The EU overall target for 2020 is to have 20% of total energy produced from renewable sources. The UK was given a lower target of 15% to recognise our poor starting point. To date with around 5 years to go we are hovering around the 5% mark. So we're going to fail and fail spectacularly. It is not our climate or latitude or topography that are the principal reasons for this failure it is politics. The faith in market approaches to deliver has simply not worked. A lack of investment in energy conservation and constantly changing policy on renewables coupled with outright hostility from Tory Ministers supported by compliant Lib Dems has meant the 'Greenest Government Ever' has turned out to be even worse than the previous ineffective Labour Government. So using the medium of Twitter I asked if the laws of physics were somehow different in other countries that meant their renewables worked and ours didn't. It struck a chord with some folk and managed 706+ retweets which is a record for your truly.

The big unanswered question for me is why did the 'hug a husky' Prime Minister Cameron make this idiot a Cabinet Minister for anything and for the Environment in particular. While at DECC he refused to meet with David Mackay the principal government advisor on energy matters. Paterson is clearly a man who wasn't interested in facts that conflicted with his own beliefs. He seems to have been introduced to appease the Tory right and George Osbourne who for all their hostility and inaction either are, or may as well be, climate change deniers.

Paterson now is marketing himself as a posterboy for climate change denial by speaking at events run by Nigel Lawson's discredited Global Warming Policy Foundation and venting his disdain for green lobby groups by referring to them/us as Green Blobs. His status as an ex minister will mean the fruitcake will still get media coverage but it is a shame that he probably won't get very challenging questions and his views will be given undue credence.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

PRESS RELEASE - Green Councillors carry out Pothole tour of the Newsome Ward

Green Party Councillors Julie Stewart-Turner, Andrew Cooper and Karen Allison have carried out a survey of every street in the area they represent.
“We have looked at over 250 streets in the Newsome Ward to assess the road condition” said Councillor Julie Stewart Turner
“Around £800’000 has been allocated for pothole repairs so we wanted tomake sure that Kirklees were presented with as complete a list as possible. We know there simply aren’t the numbers of Kirklees staff needed to go round every street. We’ve been everywhere from Hall Bower to Highfields and from Lockwood to Lowerhouses and it is clear that we have a seriously deteriorating road network. In tough times Councillors need to be even more active to ensure issues like poor road conditions are not ignored. ”
Councillor Andrew Cooper said,
“Central Government have taken over £152 million out of Kirklees funds and have given back about £800’000 for pothole repairs. Dealing with potholes can only ever be a sticking plaster solution and doesn’t solve the long term issue of lack of funding. People are paying the same amount of council tax and getting less for it while government subsidises  multi billion pound projects like HS2 and the Trident missile programme. Government priorities should be about investing in projects which help peoples everyday lives and the pothole strewn road network is a clear example of the mixed up priorities of the Coalition Government.”

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

PRESS RELEASE - Greens propose support for Shepley Library costs

Councillors Derek Hardcastle and Robert Barraclough outside Shepley Library
Kirkburton Green Party Councillors Derek Hardcastle and Robert Barraclough have proposed that Kirkburton Parish Council offer to contribute to the running costs for Shepley Library.

A community lead group in Shepley is being established to work with Kirklees to seek a Community Asset Transfer to ensure Library service remain in the village. Councillor Derek Hardcastle said,

 “For Shepley to put forward a convincing case to Kirklees to transfer the building to the community it will need to demonstrate that it has secure funding to maintain the buildings plus costs for water, gas, electricity, cleaning, waste removal costs etc. We will propose that at the Parish Council’s annual budget meeting the Council agrees an amount to be set aside for that purpose. This would help to provide a sustainable long term future for the Library.”

 Councillor Robert Barraclough said,

 “I would like us to put aside this money over a full four year term of Kirkburton Parish Council and seek to ensure that this becomes a ring fenced element of the Parish Councils budget for future years"

Contact:- Robert Barraclough – 07778 315577 Derek Hardcastle – 07779 628147

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Nick Clegg MUST be allowed to join the Leaders debates!

When I heard only 4 Party Leaders were to be included in the General Election Party Leaders televised debates like many others I was incensed. The Lib Dems were beaten hands down by the Green Party in the last European Elections and Greens gained 3 MEPs to the Lib Dems one but I still believe Nick Clegg should not be excluded from these high profile debates. 

The Lib Dems poll ratings are roughly the same as the Greens and this should be enough to ensure that Nick's voice is heard even if polls show them (and UKIP) way behind the Greens among young voters. Admittedly Lib Dems are practically toxic to young voters (my 16 year old son does refer to Clegg as "Cameron's Butt Monkey") but that misses one important function of these debates which is to hold the guilty to account. As the guarantors/collaborators with the Conservative government Clegg needs not only to comment on the future (that he won't be a part of) but also answer to us all for propping up a Coalition Government that has cut taxes for millionaires while reducing the incomes of the very poorest who will never benefit from a reduction in income tax. He could also explain how with one of the lowest percentages of energy generated from Renewable sources in Europe he can still claim to be part of he "greenest Government Ever". 

I'm sure some enterprising person will set up an online petition to allow Nick to join Dave, Ed, Nigel and Natalie at the debates but I can't be bothered right now as I'm very busy and only catching the news in snatches.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

PRESS RELEASE - Green Party and Independent Councillors Priorities for a Shared All Party Administration of Kirklees Council

The Green Party and Valley Independent Group Councillors have detailed their priorities in an All Party Shared Administration of Kirklees Council. Green Party Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper said, “We need to get some dialogue between Political Leaders on Kirklees Council about what we would each want out of a Cabinet which involved every political Group on the Council. As we have a ‘hung Council’ and the greatest finanacila crisis Kirklees has ever faced we all need to work together. Sitting in comfortable opposition when Councillors were elected to take responsibility should not be an option. You could argue that voting for Councillors who then shy away from the opportunity of taking power on the Council is simply a wasted vote. That is why I have outlined some of the key priorities our group would pursue in an All Party Shared Administration. If other parties lay out their priorities then we have the basis for dialogue” Green Party and Valley Independent Group Priorities for a Shared All Party Administration of Kirklees Council - Prioritising support to the most vulnerable. Adults and childrens services is the greatest part of the budget and where we need to focus effort not just to ensure funding but to demonstrate effective budget management. - Ensuring local control over a proportion of limited resources. We know that there are going to be less resources available so ensuring that these are allocated according to local priorities will be key. Politicians demonstrably working with representative community organisations is key. We need to argue strongly to government that we need a fair settlement for Councils like Kirklees not one that just favours the leafier Councils in the Home Counties. - Protect local green space from development but where development does occur encourage the highest construction standards and prioritise developments to new householders particularly those on limited incomes - Establishing effective partnerships with the private sector as appropriate to help the council realise income from its property portfolio - Use our links with community and voluntary sector organisations to draw in funds and resources that the Council cannot access to help protect local services. Kirklees needs to establish strong and real partnerships with Community Organisations. This will needa reprioritisation of limited budgets and dedicated staff to ensure real change happens.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

PRESS RELEASE - Greens and Independents call for an ‘All Party Administration’ on Kirklees Council for ‘the common good’

Green Party and Valley Independent Councillors have called for an ‘All Party Shared Administration’ for Kirklees Council to address the huge cuts facing local jobs and services. Green Party Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper said, "The loss of around £152million from Kirklees budgets each year by 2017 is the greatest threat to local services that the Council has ever faced. The impact on the services provided by the council cannot be overstressed, Roads that are already poor will get even worse, costs for adult social care will rise, funding for vulnerable children is uncertain, libraries and museums are threatened with closure. At a time when Kirklees is facing its greatest ever crisis it makes no sense to have a minority Labour Administration having the responsibility alone of trying to protect the services that people across the district rely on, need and value. It is all too easy for opposition parties to criticise from the sidelines with the comforting knowledge that they have no responsibility for any council decisions that are made, while knowing that if they were in charge they would be faced with exactly the same dilemmas. At times of real crisis political parties should put aside differences and work together on solutions that are built around consensus and the common good. There are no easy answers or silver bullets to address the problems that the Council is facing. That is why every Councillor, of which ever political party, has a duty to want to responsibility to get the best outcomes possible for local people. For these reasons we are calling for a shared All Party Administration of Kirklees Council. This proposal will not work if one Party decides it prefers the comfort of opposition and we would only consider being part of a Kirklees Cabinet if all Parties represented on Kirklees took part. I have today written to the other Party Group Leaders on Kirklees Council requesting a meeting to discuss our proposal ENDS

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Some thoughts on the House of Lords

Congratulations to Ex Kirklees Lib-Dem Leader Cllr Kath Pinnock on her elevation to the House of Lords. I'm sure she will make valuable contributions to political life there and be a working peer. I look forward to hearing her official title' Baroness Pinnock of Cleckeaton' maybe? The latest round of Lords appointments brought the  not unexpected controversey, a number of big donors to the Tory Party got their rewards by being appointed to 'The Lords'. For the Lib Dems this latest round of appointments takes their numbers over the 100 mark. The Green Party has 1 member in the House of Lords, 'Baroness Jones of Moulscomb' or Jenny to her freinds. Moulscomb is the name of the Council Estate in Brighton where she grew up and when she was 'signed up' for the Lords she wore a fake ermine gown for the ceremony so really proud of Jenny for sticking to her principles on that one.

Did I mention 'principles'? It is always interesting talking about 'principles' and the House of Lords. A few thoughts. Recently in the news we had the positive news that women could soon become Bishops in the Church of England as that institution comes kicking and screaming into the 20th Century just as we are well into the 21st. What I found bizarre was the lack of much mention that this progressive move would mean that these new women bishops would find themselves automatically appointed to the archaic unelected House of Lords. OK quick quiz question, 'Which 2 countries allow religious priests into their legislative bodies?' Ok you know one, it's the UK right! The other is another beloved well respected democracy, yes you guessed it, Iran! Is there any logic to having people in the House of Lords, who represent a body that as a central tenet believes in the supernatural? Well they have gone through an election process of sorts from within their membership unlike many Tory donors . I'm always happy when someone stands up to the many Government policies which I regard as regressive and that is often Bishops in the absence of many political defenders. It does however make me feel uncomfortable that these champions of the underprivileged seem about as relevant as the wizards in Hogwarts Castle. They are generally benign but the fact that I am reluctant to see them go is more a reflection of the awful state of our backwards democracy more than any logical argument for their retention. in our legislature.

This brings us, (on the subject of principles and the House of Lords) to House of Lords reform, the Coalition Agreement and the Liberal Democrats. It was going to be great, well better anyway. We were going to have a wholly (or mainly) elected second chamber elected by proportional representation with 450 members. The draft bill when it went in front of Parliament in 2011 was by no means perfect. There were still appointments and 12 'Lords Spiritual'. Ultimately 91 Tory MPs defied their Government Whip and Labour didn't exactly cover themselves in glory by effectively allowing the status quo to continue.So it was dead in the water and so much for the Coalition Agreement. Future appointments to the House of Lords were to reflect Party shares of the votes at the 2010 General Election but definitely not the 2014 Euro Election where the Greens beat the Lib Dems. I'd like to see more Greens in the House of Lords influencing policy but I find it bizarre that the archaic House of Lords is allowed to continue in existence as well as still having elections by the 'first past the Past system. We are truly a backwards excuse for a 'democracy'. We may well be the mother of all democracies but our children have by far surpassed us and left us behind.