Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lots of really good work being done in Knowle West

No comments:
Letter writer RL Smith persists in his negative view of Knowle West, attempting to defend himself by replying to my criticism of his prejudice (see June 16 blog entry). I've sent a reply to his latest letter - this debate has run for some time in the local press now, with letters criticising and supporting him. My latest letter said:

I'm afraid I'm not at all persuaded by RL Smith's defence of his position on Knowle West. He feels it is acceptable to insult the area in one breath whilst in another he attempts to absolve himself with a 'caveat' ('Knowle West', Bristol Evening Post letters, June 28). The fact is that he has had little good to say about Knowle West and has had his view skewed by his personal bad experiences. This is unfair and clearly justifies me previously saying his views are unbalanced, unfounded and unjustifiable.

A balanced view would indicate problems caused by a small minority, like many areas around the country have, and also point to some of the excellent work being done by Knowle West's people such as the Knowle West Media Centre on eg green issues, those involved in 'community courts/justice', those campaigning against drugs and others - all regularly reported in the local papers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Saving Planet Earth/Jet around the world - two sides of our society illustrated

No comments:
It was nearly one o'clock on Sunday 17 June and I'd just finished watching 'The Politics Show'. A trailer for the new BBC 'Saving Planet Earth' season, with great images of polar bears, wolves, elephants.... really got my attention as it dealt with how what's happening to endangered species is telling us loud and clear that things are going very badly wrong and that we need to make urgent changes accordingly.

I was floored by the trailer that, almost seamlessly, followed - one about the National Lottery: Jet Set 2012, centring on the 'fantastic' prize of jetting around the world on a luxury trip! No mention of the environmental costs of course.

How ironic is that! Two very different sides of the BBC, and of our society, in the space of seconds! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Labelling of and prejudice about the area I was brought up in

No comments:
Regular letter writer RL Smith's labelling of 'Knowle West' as an area with a reputation for crime and other problems ('Knowle West's location and name is no mystery', Bristol Evening Post letters, June 16) is unfounded, unbalanced and unjustifiable.

Its simply wrong to take the actions of a small number as representative of several thousand people. Its a clear sign of his prejudice that he has done so.

As a toddler I lived in Willinton Rd and then spent all my years in primary and secondary school living in Exmouth Rd and attending Ilminster Ave and Merrywood Boys' School, clearly in the area called Knowle West by many people, before living in Redcatch and then Somerset Rd in Knowle but outside Knowle West.

Having spent my formative years in the area labelled by RL Smith, by his logic I should be involved in crime in some way or be causing society some other problem, but I'm not. I've twice been a Green parliamentary candidate have two degrees and a higher degree and work as an academic for the Open University - just one of the many and varied people brought up in Knowle West.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Support the Sustainable Communities Bill

No comments:
Today sent the letters below (from , in support of the Sustainable Communities Bill, which has some success in making its way through the parliamentary process.

Dear Gordon Brown ,

I am writing to ask you, as future Prime Minister, to ensure the government stands by the assurances given by Minister Phil Woolas MP during the Sustainable Communities Bill committee stage that the government will support the Bill and not attempt to ‘water it down’ when it goes before the House for its Report and 3rd reading on the 15th of June.

This Bill is also very much in line with your personal vision of devolving power from the Centre which you expressed in your Labour Party Conference speech in 2006 when you said;

“People and communities should now take power from the state and that means a reinvention of the way we govern: the active citizen, the empowered community, open enabling government…local councils, not Whitehall, should have more power over things that matter to their community.”

You have made restoring trust a big issue in your Leadership campaign: The Sustainable Communities Bill offers a real opportunity to achieve this by actively engaging people in the local democratic process. It provides a mechanism for truly devolving power and building Sustainable Communities.

Phil Woolas made very positive comments about the Bill, and the mechanisms in it, in Committee. If, following these, the government tries to water down the Bill on 15th June then it will be no surprise if many people continue to distrust politicians.

So, once again I ask you to please ensure that the Sustainable Communities Bill is not watered down from being a Bill in which councils and communities, to use Phil Woolas’s words, ‘determine’ the policies, to one in which they are merely ‘consulted’ and all the decisions are taken centrally in Whitehall.

Yours Sincerely

Glenn Vowles

Dear Kerry McCarthy

I am writing to ask you write to communities Minister Phil Woolas MP urging him to stand by the very encouraging statements and pledges he made during the Sustainable Communities Bill Committee, that the government will support the Bill and not attempt to ‘water it down’, when it goes before the House for its Report and 3rd reading on the 15th of June.

Mr Woolas specifically assured the Committee that he agreed to the drawing up of a government action plan to help reverse community decline, with the contents of the plan being based on ‘co-operation’ between the government and councils (via the Local Government Association), and between councils and their communities (via citizens panels) (i.e. not consultation in which the decisions are taken at the centre: but co-operation in which decisions are taken together – a far more ‘bottom-up’ mechanism)

The Sustainable Communities Bill offers a real opportunity to actively engage people in the local democratic process and it provides a mechanism for truly devolving power and building Sustainable Communities. As a constituent and keen supporter of this Bill I urge you to take up this matter urgently with Mr Woolas and also to be present in the House on Friday the 15th of June to support the Bill

Your Sincerely

Glenn Vowles

Friday, June 08, 2007

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP - Politician of the Year!

No comments:
The Green Party website today reported the following:

Caroline Lucas 'Politician of the Year'

GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has beaten Gordon Brown and David Cameron to be named 'politician of the year' in the 2nd Observer Ethical Awards in association with Ecover.
The MEP, who serves on the Parliament's Environment, International Trade and Climate Change committees, was chosen ahead of the other two shortlisted politicians by readers of the Observer.
She was presented with the award last night at a central London ceremony hosted by TV presenter Simon Amstell.

She got my vote in the contest! Caroline is a great role model for any aspiring green campaigner. Well done to her! Find out more about her work at:

Saturday, June 02, 2007

'Any Questions?'; Brown...Green?; Factor 10 reductions?

No comments:
I was in the audience of Radio 4's 'Any Questions?' broadcast live last night from Explore @Bristol, along with green friends and family. . I submitted a couple of questions (below) but many others were submitted, especially on climate change (according to presenter Jonathan Dimbleby) and neither of mine were selected to be put to the panel of public figures.

There was a great discussion following a question on George Bush's recent words on climate change, won hands down by panelist George Monbiot (who was generally very entertaining and crowd pleasing). Debate ranged widely, with questions also covering how to deal best with paedophiles; Catholic views on abortion; Conservative views on grammar schools; where panelists would go on a 'farewell tour' (a la Tony Blair)...

With carbon dioxide emissions now higher than in 1997, can we expect Brown to ever truly be Green?

I'm very sceptical about Gordon Brown's green credentials, as you might expect. There is a huge difference between the bigger parties warm words and their actions! I'd welcome others comments on this though.

With UN World Environment Day this Tues how would the panel assess the scale of progress made towards a sustainable society in the last 10 yrs?

In terms of practical action we have made little or no progress overall (UK carbon dioxide emissions are 1-2% higher now than in 1997 when our very concerned government came to power for instance). I find that most politicians lack a sense of scale when bandying the word sustainability around. The rough rule of thumb I use with my environmental science/technology students is 'factor 10' ie in resource use/pollution/waste production terms we need a tenfold reduction (90%) to approach sustainability in the UK. Of course you cant isolate the UK from the rest of the world but its still a useful rough guide.