24 May 2016

Local EU referendum events

Local artist Russ
There are a plethora of EU referendum events coming up in our area:

The Stroud News and Journal are organising a debate at the Subscription Rooms in Stroud on Thursday 2nd June from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Our County Councillor Sarah Lunnon will be one of the panellists, debating Neil Carmichael, UKIP South West MEP Roger Helmer and Simon Richards of the Freedom Association. I think there’s a fair chance she’ll have the best arguments! More information is online here.

There’s a second opportunity to see Sarah in action on Friday 10th June at 6:15 pm at Stroud Old Town Hall, The Shambles. This will be a meeting featuring only those who support remaining in the EU, and has representatives from different political parties as well as youth and business groups.

Finally, our friends in Cotswold Green Party have organised a debate this Saturday 28th May at the Ashcroft Centre in Cirencester, starting at 2 pm. There’s Green representation from James Greenwood from the Forest of Dean. For all the details, see here.

See more about Greener In at: http://www.swgreenerin.org.uk/

23 May 2016

New council chairman adopts climate change awareness project

Some of Transition Stroud with Transition founder Rob Hopkins
Councillor Norman Kay, who was elected as Stroud District Council’s chairman last week, has nominated a local environmental organisation as his official charity.

On taking office, at Stroud District Council’s annual general meeting, Councillor Kay, who was elected as a Green Party councillor for the Nailsworth and Horsley area, in the recent district council elections, said: “I am exceedingly aware of this honour, and I thank council for the opportunity to be your chair.  Few will remember that I was chair of council for one enjoyable evening some years ago. I will do my best to serve council and the whole district for the next year. This is period of grave peril to all humankind through global warming and climate change. It will affect our country profoundly. Some areas will disappear underwater. Our productive agricultural land will be significantly affected. Therefore I want to promote the activities of the Transition towns and similar movements in the district, partly in raising some funds for them as the opportunity arises and partly by encouraging their educational activities.”

The Transition Towns movement currently has two groups in the district, in Stroud and in the Cam and Dursley area. For Stroud see: http://www.transitionstroud.org/ and for Cam and Dursley see: http://www.transitioncamdursley.org.uk/made-in-dursley/

Rob Hopkins in Stroud - see more here
Erik Wilkinson, one of the voluntary directors of Transition Stroud said: “Transition Stroud works for a positive future with more locally grown food, less waste, affordable sustainable energy, better transport and strong communities. All are welcome and everyone is needed to help reduce our carbon footprint.  We are excited and grateful that Norman Kay, as the new chair of Stroud District Council has decided to focus on this key issue. We divide our work into three parts – engagement activities such as our film evenings, learning activities such as our SkillsGain programme and action activities such as our Edible Stroud or Repair Cafe.  We are non political and seek to engage all the population in the issue of climate change.  For it is the only issue - in that it subsumes all others.”

Randwick Village Trail and Open Gardens

Here's press release from the Randwick Gardens team - gardens include the Whiteshill and Ruscombe Allotments site.....

TEN GARDENS WILL BE OPEN IN RANDWICK NR. STROUD ON THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 11TH. & 12TH. FROM 11 A.M. UNTIL 5 P.M. ON EACH DAY. THE TRAIL, COMPRISES A CIRCULAR ROUTE WITH PARKING AT RANDWICK PLAYING FIELDS, NEXT TO THE VILLAGE HALL ( GL6 6HS ) & MOREHALL CONVENT. IT ALSO INCLUDES AN OPEN ART STUDIO & ALLOTMENT.  PLEASE NOTE, THAT AS RANDWICK IS A HILLSIDE VILLAGE, SOME OF THE GARDENS ARE QUITE STEEP.

IN THE BEAUTIFUL 14TH CENTURY CHURCH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, THERE WILL BE AN ART EXHIBITION, CRAFT AND FLORAL DISPLAYS ALONG WITH A PLANT SALE. DELICIOUS HOMEMADE REFRESHMENTS WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE VILLAGE HALL, WHICH HAS MAGNIFICENT VIEWS OVERLOOKING THE STROUD VALLEYS.  THE ADJACENT PLAYING FIELDS PROVIDE AMPLE SPACE FOR A FAMILY PICNIC.

TICKETS AT £5.00 EACH (ACCOMPANIED CHILDREN-FREE) WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM CAR PARKS & OPEN GARDENS.

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE WEEKEND WILL BE DONATED TO RANDWICK CHURCH

21 May 2016

Javelin Park incinerator fails all 8 principles of good-policy making

This is my email to my local County Councillor....click here to write to your councillor:

Dear Jason,

As you will know the Tribunal to decide Gloucestershire County Council's appeal against the Information Commissioner's Office Decision Notice (which required disclosure of the full incinerator contract) has been postponed due to the sheer quantity of information submitted by GCC to the court for consideration. Postponement was requested by the Information Commissioner's Office, who did not wish to risk the case being "part heard" in only 2 days.  The new extended dates for the hearing are 27-30 September inclusive. 

Transparency - or lack of it - remains a key issue in the whole saga, as renowned environmentalist and writer Jonathon Porritt made clear at the recent Talking Rubbish seminar at Gloucestershire University. I wonder if you had the chance to go to the talk?

In my view it was fascinating to see the extent of failure by the County Council....Jonathon Porritt outlined 8 principles of good policy-making - Javelin Park fails on all counts. Jonathon Porritt's opening speech at the seminar laid out, blow by blow, all the reasons why Javelin Park is a perfect example of bad policy-making in action.  You can watch his brilliant talk here: http://stroudcommunity.tv/rubbish-seminar-porritts/

Porritt set out 8 principles on which resource management policy-making should be based in a sustainable context, and these are:

transparency
value for money
community engagement
efficiency in resource use
avoiding infrastructure lock-in
moving towards a circular economy
future-proofing
creating an ultra-low carbon future

Javelin Park runs counter to every single one of these principles, and the sooner the County Council and indeed Urbaser Balfour Beatty realise this, the sooner good taxpayers' money can be prevented from being thrown after bad. 

The seminar also featured Mike Brown, MD of waste consultancy Eunomia, who made it clear that by the time Javelin Park is built (if it goes ahead), there will already be more incineration capacity in the UK than there is waste to process, creating conditions for an economic meltdown in the sector.

I would welcome your views on this matter; do you agree we should at least be waiting for the report in September before starting to build an incinerator?

You will no doubt know there is a viable alternative that will be considerably cheaper. See more at: http://communityr4c.com/about/the-technology/

Yours sincerely, Philip Booth

20 May 2016

Councillors from different parties elected to key positions on Stroud District Council

Cllr Martin Whiteside
Here's the press release about last night's meeting...

At the Council’s Annual General meeting held last night, Councillor Steve Lydon was voted in as leader of Stroud District Council. Following the May elections, an administration of Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats will continue to run the council.

Councillor Lydon, who is leader of the Labour group and a district councillor for The Stanleys also represents the Dursley division as a county councillor. He said: “It is an honour to be elected to this post and to lead the work of this council. I’m looking forward to building on our work on strengthening the local economy and improving affordable housing opportunities – which includes the continuation of our council house building programme. We’ll also maintain our focus on improving the outcomes for our residents with our health and wellbeing initiatives and environmental priorities.”

At the same meeting, Norman Kay (Green) was elected chair of the council. The chairs of the five council committees were also decided.

They are:

Steve Lydon  (Labour) - Strategy & Resources Committee

Simon Pickering (Green) - Environment Committee

Mattie Ross (Labour) - Housing Committee

Steve Robinson (Labour) - Community Services & Licensing Committee

Tom Williams (Labour) - Development Control Committee

Nigel Studdert-Kennedy (Conservative No Group) - Audit & Standards Committee

Martin Whiteside, leader of the Greens on the District Council said: "It is exciting to see councillors from different parties working together on the different committees in the interests of the District. I am also delighted that we have seen fit to maximise  transparency and scrutiny of Council affairs by electing a councillor who is not a member of the cooperative alliance to chair the Audit and Standards Committee. This is a better sort of politics."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ken Tucker added: “‘With all 51 District Councillor seats on Stroud District Council being re-elected this year until 2020, it gives us a great opportunity to put in place both short and long term plans for the benefit of our communities, support for local businesses and the Stroud district as a whole. We look forward to working with our Co-operative Alliance members and the opposition Conservative Group.”

The recent district council elections saw all 51 district councillors elected to the council. The council now comprises 22 Conservatives, 18 Labour, 8 Green, 2 Liberal Democrat and 1 Conservative (No Group) councillors.

19 May 2016

Caroline Lucas on yesterdays' Queens Speech

Just seen this from Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party) commenting on yesterday's speech:

All of this talk of a ‘one nation’ Queen’s Speech is a meaningless side show from a Government intent on dividing this country with its relentless pursuit of austerity. Just a few months ago we had another eye watering budget – and further cuts to local services are now hitting hard. The idea that the Government can build social reform on the carcass of a gutted welfare state is a fallacy.

The Queen’s Speech offers nothing beyond platitudes on climate change. We needed to see a serious commitment to low carbon infrastructure but instead all that’s been offered is more hot air and warm words from a Government that’s lost its footing on the most pressing issue of our time.

Proposed prison reforms simply won’t address the crisis we’re facing. After years of cuts – and with staffing levels critical- we badly need investment to make the prison service work better. Beyond that is the urgent need for the Government to focus on cutting the prison population – a policy which must start with a rethink of our approach to drug addiction.

9 May 2016

Transition Stroud: 10 years and beyond

Great to see Transition-founder Rob Hopkins blog on last Friday night when he was here in Stroud to help celebrate nearly 10 years of  Transition Stroud: https://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2016-05/evening-stroud-10-years-and-beyond-0
Caroline Aistrop, Erik Wilkinson, Sue Flook, Rob Hopkins and Philip Booth as MC

 More about event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/595298860635357/
Photo credit: Ruth Davey

7 May 2016

Greens third in London Mayoral elections


* Sian Berry comes third in London Mayoral campaign
* London Greens record best ever Mayoral campaign
* Scottish Greens surge from two MSPs to six
* Local elections: Greens continue to grow from the grassroots up


The Green Party has recorded its best ever election results in London where Sian Berry, the Green Party’s London Mayoral candidate, came third and the Party retained its two London Assembly seats. Click to read more.

6 May 2016

Greens gain two councillors

THANK YOU Everyone who voted Green Party! The final count is in and the Green Party have increased from 6 District Council seats to 8; an excellent result! A big congratulations to our 3 candidates gaining seats; Catherine Braun winning Wotton, Norman Kay winning Nailsworth and Jim Dewey winning Coaley and Uley.

We are very pleased to retain 5 seats, returning our following excellent District Councillors; Simon Pickering for Slade, Jonathan Edmunds for Randwick, John Marjoram for Trinity, Martin Whiteside for Thrupp and Martin Baxendale for Valley. We are disappointed to have lost Stroud Central so narrowly, by just 5 votes, after the passionate and energised campaign by Caroline Baird.

Thank you again everyone involved in the campaigning, support and ultimately to everyone who made the decision to ‪#‎VoteGreen2016‬

See Stroud District results here: https://stroud.greenparty.org.uk/elections/

1 May 2016

Update on Oldbury

Just got some notes from Angela Paine who attended the Oldbury SSG on Wednesday 27 April regarding the nuclear plant. Here are her comments:

Small mercy number one  - Oldbury have finally finished trucking radwaste to the railhead at Berkley and thence through Cheltenham and numerous other cities to Sellafield.
 

Small mercy number two  - The last Magnox nuke has shut down.

When asked whether Wylfa was still going ahead we were told that Horizon is still committed but Horizon and EDF are running in parallel, though Hinkley is running to a different time frame from Horizon - whether faster or slower was not specified (they mean Horizon is intended to  be after Hinkley).


Oldbury are still talking about building a new nuke beside the old one, but it’s no longer imminent. They are now talking about building work maybe, possibly starting in ten years time. My guess is that EDF is holding up Hinkley, which is holding up Wylfa, which is holding up Oldbury.

Points to be concerned about: The NDA are about to start a ‘mentoring scheme’, pairing Small and Medium-sized Enterprises with larger organisations to share skills, experience and contacts with the aim of helping small and medium enterprises to navigate through the maze of nuclear decommissioning opportunities. All UK-based small and medium enterprises are eligible to apply, regardless of industrial background. So there is a very real prospect of radwaste being spread out all over the country in ways that cannot be monitored. The government is trying to make nuclear more popular by sharing out the proceeds from dealing with the low and intermediate level waste. In view of the fact that they classify the graphite cores of the old reactors as low level waste I think there is serious cause for concern.


The NDA has published an updated overview of Higher Activity Waste containing details about where waste arises and how it is being dealt with....weblink: Waste overview


Meanwhile see Molly Scott Cato MEP and her comments in Friday's Independent about Belguim planning to give everyone in their country iodine tablets due to increased likelihood of a nuclear disaster - perhaps creating a completely false sense of security for some? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/belgium-to-give-iodine-pills-to-entire-country-in-case-of-nuclear-fallout-radiation-terrorist-attack-a7006651.html 

And here's 30th Anniversary video of Chernobyl here.


23 Apr 2016

Ruscombe Brook update

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Cllr Jonathan Edmunds
Here is an article (which appeared in The Warbler) by Cllr. Jonathan Edmunds (SDC Ward member for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe):
The topic of flood mitigation is very topical at the moment after record rains in December brought chaos and heartache to the north of the country and Scotland. Residents of Stroud have shared that plight in the past after the misery of the 2007 floods, but people remained resilient and got together to try and minimise the risk of this happening in the future.
It was back in 2006 that the Ruscombe Brook Action Group was formed to tackle raw sewage repeatedly getting into our brook. Working with Severn Trent and others the group have been able to get parts of the sewage system replaced and relined so that no further incidents have occurred to this date.
Cartoon by local artist, Russ
One of the huge successes from that group needs highlighting. The group, have over the years worked with other flood prevention groups in the area and key figures like Councillor Sarah Lunnon, to develop a plan to reduce flooding in the wider catchment area. After a considerable amount of work by residents, a pilot project by the Environment agency, The Severn and Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and Stroud District Council (SDC) was established in 2011 and SDC was able to secure a project officer Chris Utley to lead the project.
The project has gone back to nature to tackle floods and help wildlife on the streams of the Stroud Valleys. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on concrete and steel structures, it has been using trees and other natural features to reduce the risk of flooding in the area. Working with local land owners and key partners such as the National Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, over 60 natural flood defence structures have been built in the headwaters of the Slad Brook and Painswick Stream. The scheme, known as the Rural Sustainable Drainage Systen (RSuds), is being funded by the Severn Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and aim is to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and restore wildlife. This excellent project can be viewed at http://stroudcommunity.tv/rural-sustainable-drainage/ or at www.stroud.gov.uk/rsuds and followed on twitter @Stroud_RSuDS.
While this approach will not end flooding, it will significantly reduce the likelihood of flooding at sites that have seen it here in Stroud in the past and I would say that this work has been pivotal in reducing the risk of seeing the scenes witnessed in Stroud in 2007 this winter. I will continue to work with colleagues to ensure that this project is continued to be supported and extended into more catchments of the Frome catchment.

14 Apr 2016

Proof of Tory Support for Glyphosate

 Further to my last post,  I received a press release from Tory MEP for the South West, Julie Girling whose aim is to fight the 'needless farm ban':

' Julie Girling is leading Britain's Conservative MEPs in fighting moves to ban an important herbicide.
 She said: "Farmers need this product to protect arable fields and horticulture crops. It is also needed where there are large hard surfaces - airports for example - to tackle damaging weeds."
Scientists at the European Food Safety Authority have researched the substance thoroughly and found that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risk when used appropriately and is unlikely to pose a hazard to humans.Based on that advice, the EU Commission is proposing to renew authorisation, which is due to expire on June 30. However, MEPs on the Environment Committee passed a resolution objecting to the approval of glyphosate, leading to this week's vote of the full parliament.Mrs Girling said:"This product has been used for years and we are not going to stand by and watch over-zealous MEPs from the Left slip through a ban in the face of the science.

"This is a decision for member state experts. Parliament should let them get on with things. As MEPs we should support evidence based policy making. "In this case some anti-farmer MEPs are straying outside their remit and leaving the public open to higher food prices and scarcity issues"
 "We will not let them get away with it. We'll support fairness for farmers and consumers."

The US Center of Food Safety strongly disagrees with the European Food Safety Authority assessment.
'EFSA relied heavily on the glyphosate assessment conducted by German pesticide regulators, which was based on egregious violations of accepted standards for interpreting studies.  For instance, faulty statistical methods were used to reject clear evidence that glyphosate causes cancer in experimental animals.'

THE VOTE on 13th April

The Press release said:
 Given concerns about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, used in many farm and garden applications, the EU Commission should renew its marketing approval for just 7 years, instead of 15, and for professional uses only, Parliament says in a resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs call for an independent review and the publication of all the scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate.
Glyphosate should not be approved for use in or close to public parks, public playgrounds and public gardens, they add.
National experts sitting in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Phytopharmaceuticals Section) will vote to adopt or reject the Commission proposal by qualified majority in May. If there is no such majority, it will be up to the European Commission to decide.

Green MEP for the South West, Molly Scott Cato, is against the continued use of glyphosate.

11 Apr 2016

EU and the Environment

The Green Party is campaigning to stay in Europe, but with reforms. One of the reasons for remaining in the EU is the Environment. 

It’s only by working with our European neighbours that we can tackle the big issues like climate change, protect wildlife and reduce pollution. Thanks to EU rules, our beaches are cleaner, our air cleaner and our dirtiest power stations are being shut down. The UK government though, is always wanting to support corporations rather than people and their well being.

A current example is the use of glyphosate - a widely used weedkiller that the World Health Organisation has found is probably carcinogenic.

On 8 March Italy joined France, Sweden and the Netherlands in opposing a new 15-year licence for glyphosate at an EU meeting which had been expected to rubber stamp its reapproval. This chemical is a core ingredient in Monsanto's $5bn-a-year Roundup brand. If no new arrangement is found then the licence for glyphosate will expire at the end of June. Monsanto is furious.

True to form, however, the UK Government (not UK Green MEPS) is supporting the use of glyphosate. The European Parliament is about to vote on a resolution that would support a ban on glyphosate.

The campaign group SumOfUs is organising a petition to tell MEPS that they are accountable to us, not Monsanto.

Keep an eye out and see what happens. The EU may offer us protection. If we are outside of the EU, the UK government would definitely not.

See the Guardian article.

9 Apr 2016

#GrownUpPolitics - Green Party 2016 Party Election Broadcast

Following the success of spoof boy band video 'Change the Tune' last year, the Green Party has released ‘The not so secret life of 5 year-old politicians’, a satirical election broadcast designed to shake up British politics. The broadcast positions the Green Party as the only true alternative to the establishment parties, who offer more of the same childish Punch and Judy politics.

In the daring broadcast, child actors playing British politicians are shown squabbling and infighting in amusing ‘playground politics’ scenarios. In one scene, Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson is seen lording it over his rivals from the top of the climbing frame and promising to flush Chancellor George Osborne’s “long term-economic plan” down the toilet. In another comical scene, front-benchers trade petty insults at a raucous Prime Minister’s Questions in the school gym.

Greens believe that politics isn't something that should be done to the public - instead politicians should work alongside people to tackle shared problems. The broadcast reinforces the party’s commitment to “stand up to protect our NHS and ensure that the quality of your health care is never determined by what’s in your wallet” and “do everything it can to empower people: redistributing influence so it’s no longer in the hands of the privileged few.”

The film was directed by Neil Harris via Smuggler London Limited, on behalf of Creature of London who created the film, their third film for the Green Party. ‘Change the Tune’, the Greens’ boy band spoof video went viral on the internet.