Saturday, 8 December 2012

Beverley Town Meeting rejects Council building plans

Beverley spoke!  Feathers were spat....
A packed Toll Gavel Methodist Church was full of (about 400) seething Beverlonians!  

Sandy Patience for the Civic Society introduced the issues. The East Riding  of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) proposes to:
  • replace the setts/cobbles in Saturday Market,  
  • demolish Longcroft School for housing, 
  • build more housing in the north and south of the town,
  • allow more retail on the Grovehill site.  
The Mayor chaired, and speaker after speaker asked why ERYC behaves in the arrogant way it does. Why were the Council leader and chief exec not present?  Why does the council do whatever it wants without consulting? Why do they want to destroy the historic fabric of the town rather than improve council housing?  Why is there no Beverley Councillor on the Cabinet?  Why did ERYC set targets for new houses in Beverley which far exceed (proportionately) anywhere else in the country?  
The meeting voted to:
  • retain the granite setts (and the character of the Market Place)
  • leave Longcroft School on its current site
  • reduce the housing targets for the town as a whole
  • prohibit supermarkets on Grovehill.  
Other points were to take infrastructure implications of more building (eg, flooding) to the Ombudsman, and to get the MP to ask why there is no VAT on  newbuild when there is VAT on renovation.
Friends of the Earth and the Green Party pointed out that land is no longer in production, and must be prioritised for food and not for building.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Redefining Business Success: it's not just money!

As part of our Earth Charter in Business project (DfID funded), we instigated this Consultation at St George's House, Windsor Castle.
On this occasion a group of people from business (global and local) met with academics, NGOs and people from media, economics, the arts, education, faith groups and government ministries to discuss how we can redefine success in business - ie, move away from profit as the sole measure of success.  

Business could be the engine which moves us towards a sustainable world instead of away from it... but it will need education and encouragement, legislation from governments,  regulation and enforcement. Some very useful ideas and connections came out of the 24 hours, so, many thanks to St George's House for this valuable opportunity.

St George's was set up in 1966 by the Duke of Edinburgh and the then Dean, Robin Woods, as a place where people can come together to explore contemporary issues... an excellent idea!

Shan Oakes and Bill Rigby

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Green Events! Transition Hull

Post-Christmas Social - Transition Hull

will be held on Monday 14 January in place of the regular meeting. There will be a brief meeting starting at 7.30pm then drinks and eats. Put the date in your diary! The venue is Boulevard Village Hall, Boulevard, HU3 3EJ.

is combining their meeting and film showing for December. No meeting on Monday 10 Dec., but on Tuesday 11 December there will be a film showing of The Economics of Happiness at 7.30 pm.
The venue is Lonsdale Community Centre, Lonsdale St off Anlaby Rd, HU3 6PA. 
This is followed by a social. Film and social are free, and if you just want to come to the film that's fine!

Beverley Green Drinks

will be Thursday 13 December at the Green Dragon in Beverley, 6.30 pm for a couple of hours. An opportunity to meet people and talk about green issues.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Coalition of Resistance AGM: Cuts Devastate the Most Vulnerable

COR Chair, Romayne Phoenix of the Green Party, with new COR president, Tony Benn.  

The Coalition of Resistance conference was very busy. We met with colleagues to resist the appalling cuts to services which are devastating to the most vulnerable members of society. That a government made up of millionaires can do this is truly grotesque.

NEF's Olivier Vardakoulias, a member of the Greek left-leaning party Syriza, gave a particularly insightful analysis. Across Europe it's the elite on one side and the people on the other.  It's not an economic crisis - it's a political crisis.  Welfare provision has been funded by borrowing from future generations instead of a fair contribution from the rich. Powerful interests are preventing change.  

Shan Oakes, Bill Rigby

Saltaire: Yorks and the Humber Greens

Saturday Dec 1st.... members of Hull and East Riding Green Party (Martin Deane, Mark Maloney, Bill Rigby and Shan Oakes) , along with the Party's deputy leader, Will Duckworth, and other Yorks and the Humber Greens - at Titus Salt's magnificent Saltaire Mill,  that once thriving hub of the wool industry - now a gallery dedicated to David Hockney's work.  After the AGM and  hustings  for the  European candidacy, we visited the community hydro-scheme and the Mill.  Its always good to meet party members from across the region - and what great stuff they are all doing!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Biosolids Conference

I'd  had very short notice of this event  (see my last post) so, even having perused the website, I'd not fully realised that biosolids means the organic 'fruits' of  sewerage.  I'd had in mind  the broader concept of biomass.  Euphemism getting in the way, perhaps, but apparently the experts in this large and fascinating field stick together and use familiar words with different meanings :  their 'cake' is not edible!   The invitation was to give a keynote speech about a green vision for the economy.  As I was short of time I'd adapted  a speech given by Caroline Lucas.   Luckily I was able to arrive an hour or so before my slot to eat and talk with stallholders (selling sludge management machinery, consultancy etc) and listen to other presentations. It was a steep learning curve. I discovered they are (in general) a green-minded group, so I chopped out of my speech the bit about climate change.  They are very aware of greenhouse gas emissions (as the photo of the presentation by ADAS shows).  They  want government to stop backtracking on renewable energy, and they say that regulation often gets in the way of greener ways of doing things as it's too inflexible.  Apparently the policy makers don't listen: e.g. they promise to meet at a plant and then change the venue to London, so they never really get to grips with the industry's issues.  Clearly, better communication between all sectors is needed (as it is with everything).  I'm really glad I had the opportunity to meet the biosolids gang...and I now have an invitation to speak at Leeds University, and a few contacts in this crucially important and, it seems,  misunderstood field. see

Sunday, 18 November 2012

London: GPEX , and Guerilla campaigning

Green Party Exec Meeting 17th Nov, Development House;
and Guerilla Campaigning - Leon, Kings Cross Station.  We were very surprised to see this stack of Coke at Leon which purports to espouse wholesome values ...maybe they don't know that Coca-Cola sets up plants in places where it can pay staff very low wages (we saw a plant in Uganda), uses up all the water, and then sells the sugar-based product to people, making out its good for them.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Athens in November

....a few tourist shots on top of the Acropolis:  most of the dogs we saw in Athens seemed large and knocked out like this one - its clearly stressful guarding the Parthenon and all the other world heritage sites.
The crocuses are on the wonderfully named Areopagus  - the rock from which St Paul spoke to the assembled Athenians

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Aspects of solidarity

With Greek Greens at Athens Council of European Greens.
Truck drivers inspect ferry docking procedure at Brindisi this morning
Nov 14th European Day of Solidarity against austerity - Brindisi

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The debates get under way

 Issues emerging in the first full plenary of the EGP

  • the serious impact of the austerity measures on the community and the economy - leading to societal breakdown and a reinforcement of a system which has already demonstrated failure

  • the importance of integrity and good governance as a key factor in any programme to move forward

  • the need to show that the economy cannot be relaunched, rather it should be re-tooled systematically.

  • a Green electoral platform can only have traction with an electorate if it makes clear what alliances it is prepared to participate in

  • corruption not unique to Greece within the EU

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Athenian graffiti


Athens - demonstration last night

Everybody was out on the streets marching or supporting the marchers and awaiting the vote in was very much the ordinary people, not 'troublemakers' as the media would have us believe. Yes, Syndagma Square got the tear gas treatment from the police but the people kept marching - despite the rain.  Some comments were:  'salaries are being cut by 50% and prices are going up - you can't live'  (woman who works in research institute who is staying in Greece only to support her elderly parents) ;  'you just can't live on the reduced salaries..if you get ill you can't afford treatment - even if its available' (woman who works on Parthenon restoration);  ' lots of the decisions don't even bring any revenue to the government...its illogical, unprecedented and insupportable ....and its encouraging the rise of the far right' (Aristides, a human rights lawyer).  People are angry that the Greeks are being portrayed as shirkers to justify these draconian measures:  ' They want to make Greece like a failed Balkan state'.... Someone else not on the march, who had seen the event on TV, thought a military government is the answer.  But people agree that the current government is useless, without a mandate, and is reneging on all its promises.....The proposed measures have no logic in economics or common sense.  'New ideas are needed' (a taxi driver). The European Greens Council this weekend must get its progressive message out there....there is noone else with the radical vision to get Europe out of this mess. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Nov 6th Athens anti-austerity demonstration

Today was a HUGE demo against the austerity measures ... the Communist Party (separately) and then unions and other groups (one group we spoke to was people with MS) marched.into Syndagma  (constitution) Square.   The march took at least 3 hours to pass a single point.   No violence.  Tomorrow's is expected to be even bigger.  We aim to get translations of the many photos we took of the banners from  Greek colleague Constantine who is also here for the European GP council.

Travelling to Athens for Council of the European Green Parties

Bill on top couchette, impressive recycling at Milan station.  Overnight ferry from Brindisi, Italy,  to Patra, Greece: truck drivers take in the island views.  Turbines on hill tops (taken from bus to Athens).  On arrival at bus station someone sprayed  something smelling of sick over our luggage - we think in an attempt to distract us -  but we remained in possession of all our stuff.  Glad to say,  since then,  everyone has been very friendly!

Train trip to Athens

Saturday 3 November 0530 Milan - arrived on sleeper from Paris: what a magnificent station!!   Imperial Rome 30's style ... and thousands of starlings in trees outside making a sound like heavy rain.