Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year??

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So, its not going to be a 'happy new year' then! The Coalition Govt say they believe in measuring the progress of society via wellbeing and happiness but have no policies likley to improve either of these. I have to say that I agree with the general view of the TUCs Brendan Barber here - he's also probably right to say, "It's hard to pick out the unkindest cut of all, but a top contender must be the 10% cut in housing benefit that kicks in after someone has been unemployed for more than a year."

BBC News - Union leader says 2011 will be 'horrible' year

The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, has said 2011 would be a "horrible" year of cuts. In his New Year message the union boss claimed there would be cuts in jobs and real cuts in living standards.

He added the year could also be a tough one for the government, which may face further angry protests.

Meanwhile, another union leader, Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union said strikes next year were "inevitable".

"The more of us that stand together against the cuts, the more problems we can create. Unless you look like you want a fight, they won't negotiate," he told the Times newspaper, predicting that the disruption would begin in the spring. "The Government has to see we are serious."

The TUC's Mr Barber said a demonstration in London in March against spending cuts looked like being one of the biggest events his union had ever organised.

In his New Year message, he said: "It's hard to pick out the unkindest cut of all, but a top contender must be the 10% cut in housing benefit that kicks in after someone has been unemployed for more than a year."

The Times reported senior union figures would meet at a TUC meeting early in the New Year to discuss their response to the cuts.

Also see this comment from Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Forensic Science Service cuts are criminal -

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Here's yet another example of a serious lack of respect for science from Government:

Forensic Science Service cuts are criminal -

I've posted on this issue before, including saying, 'It strikes me that this Government is doing well in continuing the trend of successive Governments in not following the best available scientific advice and taking action of the type, scale and speed that the evidence suggests. Just off the top of my head in addition to the badger culling issue there is also: drugs and their classification; climate change; over-fishing...The grasp of science, scientific issues and their interrelationship with socio-economic and environmental factors in Parliament, in political circles generally and in the media is, with few exceptions, pretty poor.'

More on this issue:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Illogical and incoherent Cllr Rogers...

Cllr Dr Jon Rogers [pictured] says, ‘We are determined to see the quality, quantity and accessibility of our parks and open spaces improve all across the city in the next 20 years’ (‘Land sell-off is right’, Post, Letters Dec 27). But hang on this man has, along with all Lib Dem and other councillors except the Greens, said it’s the right thing to do to plan to sell many acres of Bristol’s parks and green spaces over the next 20 years! That’s a decrease not the ‘quantity...improved’ that he claims he wants to see. As for improving accessibility to green spaces, well it’s self-evident that you make it more difficult to achieve this if you plan to sell some of them off and allow building over them. It’s worrying in the extreme to see such a lack of logic and coherence from Cllr Rogers. It was always illogical, inconsistent and incoherent to plan to sell-off chunks of our parks and green spaces whilst saying you are committed to health, wildlife, climate change and economic policies that require protecting and increasing green spaces.

Cllr Rogers contact details on the Bristol City Council website are:
email - , or telephone (0117) 914 2558, if you want to get in touch to set him straight.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BBC News - 'Big four' supermarkets get 577 stores agreed, BBC finds

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BBC research has found at least 577 UK supermarkets were approved in the past two years, with campaigners concerned at the growth of the 'big four' stores.
Planning authorities gave Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons permission for at least 480 stores in England in the two years to 1 November.
Campaigners say the stores are putting independent traders out of business...

BBC News - 'Big four' supermarkets get 577 stores agreed, BBC finds

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cain on Culture - The King’s Speech: does it live up to expectations?

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Apparently the answer to Cain's querstion is yes this film does - great perfomances, gripping and emotionally engaging. Saw Ed Balls commenting on this film and saw him in a new and refreshing light.

Cain on Culture - The King’s Speech: does it live up to expectations?

...The film begins and ends with a key public speech given by the King (in the first the Duke of York), both of them utterly compelling but for quite different reasons. The first is jaw-droppingly humiliating for Bertie. The second is nothing short of a triumph and hugely moving. You realise just how much you’ve invested in his journey when you’ve been crying tears of pride for its entire length.

So try and put aside the weight of expectation and see this film as soon as you can. Not only is it terrific but you’ll leave the cinema feeling something quite rare – that your capacity for compassion has greatly benefitted.

Mabinogogiblog: A quick review of the state of our home planet

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This a great way to paint a vivid picture of what's going on - well worth a look (click on the image on Dr Lawsons site to see the image in full) and a think...and more.

Mabinogogiblog: A quick review of the state of our home planet

BBC News - Poorest pupils '55 times less likely to go to Oxbridge'

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No surprise at all that there is huge inequality and unfairness in our education system (and beyond) but this study puts figures on it. Shows the abject failure of the Blair and Brown Labour Governments, despite claims that their aim was a more equal society. Coalition Govt policies are likely to be inadequate and ineffective at tackling this issue despite claims of being 'radical' - they may even make the problem worse! Do you trust former members of the socially exclusive Oxford University student dining club* like PM David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Chancellor George Osbourne to cut inequality? See the Bullingdon Club* photos - inequality goes right through to the Cabinet!
Pupils on free school meals are 55 times less likely to go to Cambridge or Oxford than those from private schools, the Sutton Trust has said.
The charity said it feared rising fees and the axing of a support programme would make it harder for poor students to get into England's top universities.
It also raised concerns about proposed measures to widen participation...

BBC News - Poorest pupils '55 times less likely to go to Oxbridge'

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why you wouldn’t want to be Mark Harper MP (Jonathon Porritt)

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On flogging the forest and the right of recall.

Mark Harper is a Tory MP for the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. He’s also a Junior Minister – for Constitutional Reform. He’s also in the process of engineering his own political extinction at the next General Election...

...And here’s a wonderful irony. The Government has mooted the idea of introducing a ‘right of recall’ for constituents who have lost all faith in their MP. As Junior Minister for Constitutional Reform, Mark Harper will be responsible for bringing forward this proposal – and would almost certainly be the first MP to be evicted from the House of Commons as a consequence of it...

Why you wouldn’t want to be Mark Harper MP (Jonathon Porritt)

BBC News - How Helsinki airport deals with snow and ice

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Interesting perspective on one aspect of dealing with snowy weather from Helsinki - basically they expect a lot of snow and very low temperatures; they are more prepared, with more staff and equipment types and numbers; our snow is wetter and ice problems are more likely; Helsinki airport does not have to handle as many flights as Heathrow...If this kind of weather is likely to occur in the UK more frequently then we have to be more prepared and perhaps change our attitude to travel intensive lifestyles.

...It looks as though there will be another snowy winter, like last year's, says Anika Kala, a spokesperson for the airport. But she says she's relaxed because the airport is "well prepared".

The preparation consists of good equipment, extra winter staff, and a choice of three runways.

While one runway is being cleared of snow or ice, the other two are open for business.

Snow storage
In exceptional circumstances, two runways may be closed. It takes a rare combination of heavy snow and high wind to close all three - as happened, briefly, seven years ago.

What about the equipment?

"We have 250 vehicles of different kinds," says Ms Kala.

"We have sweepers, snow ploughs, vehicles that blow snow from the runways, and friction testers that check the surface is fit for use."

The snow is removed to a special storage area within the airport perimeter. When that fills up, it is taken to other facilities outside.

Last winter 7,000 truckloads were carted off the runways, apron and taxi-ing areas.

Temperatures in Helsinki can drop to -25C - but Ms Kala explains that a good hard frost is much easier to deal with than a temperature of zero or -1C.

"When it's zero degrees, it's moist and there will be ice," she says....

She acknowledges that there is a big difference between Helsinki, which has a total of 600 landings and take-offs per day on its three runways, and Heathrow which has twice as many - on two runways - and five times as many passengers to deal with.

Running a big airport like Heathrow - which is privately owned by BAA - would be a bigger operation than running state-owned Helsinki airport.

But the principles for dealing with snow and ice, Ms Kala suggests, are probably the same.

BBC News - How Helsinki airport deals with snow and ice

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Liar, Liar for Xmas No.1

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Captain Ska's anti-cuts, anti-coalition government song Liar Liar is out on sale this week with ambitions to make it to Christmas number one. Clips of George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg saying 'we are all in this together' are mixed onto a ska backing claiming "he’s a liar, liar, you can’t trust him, no, no, no."

Proceeds from the single will go to causes helping those affected by the cuts, including the homeless charity Crisis, Disability Alliance, Women's Health Matters and False Economy - a cuts campaign site supported by UNISON.

Liar Liar is the number one reggae song on iTunes, at number 59 in the downloads chart - and it might just knock Simon Cowell off the top of the charts.

From 79p to download from: iTunes Tesco entertainment Shockhound also: eMusic Napster Thumbplay

Ask your friends and colleagues to download it too – just send them a link to this page, or share it via email, facebook, or twitter:

UNISON News The public service union Liar, Liar for Xmas No.1

Friday, December 17, 2010

Talks between town green and new stadium sides

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Its a good thing for both sides to talk issues through. Polarisation and vilification that has occurred during the debate has hindered rational consideration. I watch with interest to see what is proposed, by whom, and what the final outcome is.

A DOOR has finally opened which could break the deadlock over Bristol City building a new stadium at Ashton Vale.

Poll: 56% support the alternative vote

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The campaign to reform Britain’s voting system has been boosted by a new opinion poll showing that a majority of the public supports change.
An ICM Research survey for the Electoral Reform Society found that 56 per cent of people favour the alternative vote (AV), in which voters rank candidates in order of preference, while only 44 per cent want to retain the existing first-past-the-post system...

Clegg to be sidelined from his pet project - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

Spending cuts 'will see rise in absolute child poverty' | Politics | The Guardian

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If we were genuinely all 'in this together' our government would not be enacting policies that will push more and more children into both absolute and relative poverty. Those who 'have the broadest shoulders' as the Coalition Govt have put it are supposed to be 'taking the biggest load' - clearly they aren't! See this Guardian report on an authoritative study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies,

The government's radical programme to slash spending will see the first rise in absolute child poverty for 15 years, with almost 200,000 children pushed into penury, according to an analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Tax changes introduced by the coalition government will, the leading independent fiscal thinktank finds, increase absolute poverty by 200,000 children and 200,000 working-age adults in 2012-13.

Cuts to housing benefit alone will force a further 100,000 children into poverty.
In the next three years the IFS says average incomes are forecast to stagnate and this, coupled with deep cuts in welfare, will see a rise in relative poverty for children and working-age adults of 800,000 and a rise in absolute poverty for the same group of 900,000.

The institute directly challenges the government's claim that the impact of the budget would have no effect on child poverty...

Spending cuts 'will see rise in absolute child poverty' Politics The Guardian

Thursday, December 16, 2010

FIFA vs International Olympic Committee rules

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Was going to write a piece about FIFA vs IOC rules, following the corruption allegations against FIFA and the farce of taking the Wold Cup to Russia in 2018 and in particular Qatar in 2022. However, I see that the BBCs James Pearce has already done a good job on this issue.

BBC - James Pearce: Fifa should learn from IOC

...Wide-ranging reform at Fifa is unlikely to happen in the short term. But even if Blatter wants to nudge his organisation gently on to a path of greater transparency, then he could do a lot worse than follow the IOC's example. Look at how the IOC reformed its voting system after the Salt Lake City scandal. In particular, there was one major change that dramatically lessened the opportunities for corruption.

If you are an IOC member, you are no longer allowed to visit any candidate cities without permission. Instead, the IOC members are told to form their opinions from the official technical report. Yes, in Olympic circles technical reports are actually read, unlike the Fifa ones that appear to have been ignored. A city that had been branded "high risk" in the way that Qatar was by Fifa would be very unlikely to win an IOC vote.

In contrast, the 24 members of Fifa's executive committee were able to travel the world for free during the contests for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. If one of them fancied a weekend in London with his wife, then all he needed to do was pick up a phone or click his fingers and it was all laid on. A five-star hotel, limousine, hospitality at the Premier League game of his choice... The bid teams had no choice but to pander to the voters' every need. These lucky men were wined and dined in destinations stretching from Moscow to Sydney, via New York, Tokyo, Seoul and many other of the world's great cities.

The IOC put a stop to all this. The rules for Olympic voters are now far tighter.
If Fifa voters are banned from travelling to the bidding countries, it would not be enough to make the process appear clean but it would at least be an important first step....

Unanswered green spaces questions

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Bristol City Council due to decide on sell off plan despite unresolved questions

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TODAY the city council's cabinet is due to decide on a plan to sell off up to 64 parks and green spaces, despite a string of unresolved questions on the controversial scheme.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poor economics, poor politics

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Unemployment is up by 35,000 to 2.5 million. At the same time inflation has risen to a six month high of 3.3%. More unemployment and more inflation is forecast in 2011 as the cuts in public spending and the VAT rise make their damaging economic and social impacts. Its crazy not to be stimulating key parts of the economy at this time - very poor economics from the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition. Despite this situation Labour leader Ed Miliband only asked very briefly about the economy in today's questions to the Prime Minister. Ed and his team are weak on the economy, weak on defending Labour's record and the need for economic stimulus and weak on political strategy and tactics.

See on unemployment
See on inflation.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Despite cuts, Bristol City Council offers deputy job for £120k a year

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The council should scrap this idea, not employ anyone in this role - and save £240,000 over two years. We are all supposed to be 'in it together'. You can afford to employ six people on £20,000 on two year contracts with this money - or keep a library open for the same period...Very bad choice Bristol City Council.

BRISTOL City Council is advertising for a new deputy chief executive on a salary of more than £120,000-a-year – at a time when the council is in the grip of the biggest cuts in its history. [salary alone for the two yr contract is £240,000 - there may be other costs involved]

The council is shedding hundreds of jobs and has had a freeze on vacancies to try to balance the civic books.

The advert says: "We have recently reviewed our senior management team and are looking for a new deputy chief executive to join us initially for the next two years...

Opposition to green space sell-off plans overwhelming

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MORE than 15,000 people have signed petitions against Bristol City Council's plan to sell of green spaces – but not a single person appears to have signed any petition in support.

BBC News - Lollipop patrols axed by council

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What! Lollipop patrols protect our kids and in any case cost only a very small amount of money. Lollipop men and women aren't exactly overpaid - get rid of the Chief Executives on extortion salaries and stop using all those consultants that cost a fortune instead! I hope this suggestion is not made in Bristol or elsewhere.

BBC News - Lollipop patrols axed by council

With councils in England facing big cuts to their funding from central government, some jobs and services are likely to be axed.
The need to save money has led to Suffolk County Council to propose getting rid of its lollipop men and women to save £174,000, a move that's upset some parents.

Monday, December 13, 2010


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I'm all for spreading out and sharing power much more. There is far too much power in central government and in other large organisations - including councils - and not nearly enough in the hands of local people, local communities and those served by large organisations. But does the government's Localism Bill give real power to the people and in all respects? An Elected Mayor puts an awful lot of power in to hands of one person for instance. Government claim to be giving more power to local councils - but at the same time they are disempowering them by cutting the money they get by 27% over four years! I welcome any genuine shift of power but money has to go with it.

BBC News - Councils to see grants cuts by average 4.4% - Pickles

The Localism Bill's measures are expected to include:

*Giving local people and organisations the right to buy community assets like shops, pubs and libraries. If a council decides to sell a property community organisations will get extra time to develop their bid.
*Communities can question how services - such as children's centres, care homes and transport - are being run and potentially take them over.
*More power for local people to overrule planning decisions, decide where new homes should go and protect green spaces.
*Powers to create directly elected mayors in 12 cities
*Powers for people to approve or veto "excessive" council tax rises

Lib Dem and Labour Hypocrites

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Knowle Councillor Gary Hopkins has been hypocritical by saying he values green spaces whilst also deciding to flog many of them. However, it’s very rich indeed for Labour’s Dawn Primarolo to criticise him ('Gary got it all wrong', Post 13 Dec) because Labour were running the council when the green spaces plans were drafted and then adopted (2007 and 2008)! She is now jumping on the green bandwagon. I would remind her, as the person who has lead the Green Party’s consistent, principled and practical opposition to green spaces flogging, that I lobbied and petitioned the then Labour Cabinet running Bristol very hard indeed – and not a single Labour Cabinet member or Councillor would do anything to oppose the plans. In fact they argued strongly in favour of selling our green spaces! You can’t trust the protection of green spaces to the Lib Dems, Labour or the Conservatives because they’ve all supported the sell-off policy in the past.

Note: In this report ('MP condemns consultation as 'shambles' ', Post, Dec 10) Cllr Hopkins gave some details of the meetings that dealt with green spaces issues in Knowle - including 'The Jungle' (Salcombe Rd Rec). He refers to '...a few people against the principle of the PGSS (green spaces strategy)...'. I was there and I am certainly one of the people he is referring to here. There was zero Labour campaigning to save green spaces whereas the Green Party had a clear policy against sell-off from the start.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Need for Nuclear

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Been looking over this campaign website: No Need for Nuclear

This is a campaign to stop the building of new nuclear power stations.
All but one UK nuclear power stations are due to close by 2023. We think this generation of nuclear power should be the last.

Nuclear power is
not necessary to meet the UK's electricity demand, it is more expensive than renewable alternatives, and is not carbon-neutral.

This is a big campaign ask, since the new coalition Government has already decided that the UK nuclear industry should be allowed to grow. This means we're going to need all the help we can get in order to convince them otherwise. Please visit
our activism pages to find out how you can help.

Green Party | Greens offer free membership to students and young people

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Join the Green Party here.

In an unprecedented move, the Green Party today offered free membership to people under 30 or in full-time education.

Any student or young person who applies to join the Green Party before 1 January 2011 will pay no subscription for the coming year...

Green Party Greens offer free membership to students and young people

Friday, December 10, 2010


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Guest blogger, Terence Blacker decries the ‘Ozymandian’ stupidity of holding the 2022 World Cup in air conditioned stadiums in Qatar, one of the world’s hottest countries and FIFA’s feeble greenwashing of its stupendously destructive choice of host country.


AV is much fairer: letter

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Great letter on a fairer voting system by Chris Millman in todays Post: AV is much fairer

IN his letter to the Post on December 4, Oliver Tunnah shows little faith in the intelligence of the British electorate, who he thinks will be "befuddled" by the alternative vote (AV) system. But it is he who is confused. He claims "with AV you must vote for a party you don't believe in."


The AV is quite simple. It allows the opportunity to list candidates in order of preference. If only one candidate is acceptable to you, you only list one.

The beauty of the system is that it allows you to vote for the candidate you want, rather then backing the one you think most likely to beat the candidate you don't want. This is the precise opposite of what Mr Tunnah is suggesting.

In May we have an historic chance to scrap outdated first-past-the-post and bring in AV, which is fairer.

Chris Millman, Coombe Dingle.

Local Lib Dem mess; national Lib Dem mess - people should vote Green Party instead

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The news on Bristol's green spaces is mostly very depressing isn't it. About three quarters of all sites proposed for sell off by the council, around 48 sites at least I believe, will still be sold, despite very strong objections from multiple directions.

The Lib Dem local position on green spaces is a real mess. Their national position on student tuition fees is also a real mess. They said they believe in the value of green spaces but then agree to sell them off. They said they believed in the abolition of student tuition fees but then agreed to massively increase them.

The Bristol Cabinet still has to meet to agree all that was reported in the Post - I think they might be meeting on the 16 Dec. I suppose they could (and will) be lobbied and a question or two could be put to them.

After that I think many local people in many areas will have to look out for individual land sales proposals and then for planning applications in the event of development proposals. Some might well campaign in the run up to next May to remove any local Cllrs they now object to!!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Green Party | Government must halt its “savage attacks” on UK higher education, say Greens

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Good quality Higher Education is one of the key factors to manitain and develop if we are to achieve a sustainable society - but its struggling to survive in places! Education is not a commodity to be bought and sold.

Green Party Government must halt its “savage attacks” on UK higher education, say Greens

Green Party | Greens now the only political party fighting for free education

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Green Party Greens now the only political party fighting for free education

Need for urgent action on climate change - but its not forthcoming

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I agree whoelheartedly with this excellent letter in todays Post about the need for urgent action on climate change from Oxfam's Roger James - but sadly both he and I are going to be very disappointed with what results from the meeting at Cancun.

T HE weather is very much in our minds at the moment and while it may seem odd to be concerned about man-made global warming while we struggle with the cold, the latest Royal Society research indicates that on present policies we have little chance of avoiding a 2C global temperature rise.

These projections send a powerful reminder why progress at the current international climate change conference in Cancun is more urgent than ever.

A new Oxfam report shows that 21,000 people suffered weather-related deaths during the first nine months of 2010, more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.

This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the ten-year average of 770.

It is also one of the hottest years ever recorded with Pakistan logging 53.7°C – the highest ever in Asia.

Climate change affects us all: The Association of British Insurers tripling by 2050. In the South West such events seem to have become more common.

Building a greener economy is an even more necessary solution in a time of recession.

The poorest communities around the world who are the most vulnerable urgently need funds to adapt to climate change and to build a low carbon economy.

Oxfam South West campaigners are among many thousands of people in this region who have raised these concerns.

The Cancun conference is a real opportunity for the world to decide on an effective response to climate change.

This challenge is also an opportunity for those countries that move fast to prosper in a greener, fairer future.

Roger James, Oxfam South West, Brunswick Square, Bristol

Bristol wins £260k green grant as biofuel decision delayed | Bristol24-7

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If sustainability - full and proper - is going to be used By Eric Pickles to judge this biofuel plan then I'm confident it wont go ahead.

Bristol wins £260k green grant as biofuel decision delayed Bristol24-7

...The news comes as it emerged that a decision on the controversial biofuel power plant planned for Avonmouth would be delayed by the Government.
Communities and Local Govt Secretary of State Eric Pickles was due to decide this month whether planning permission should be granted for the power station. He has announced a delay to allow all sides to submit more evidence on the central question – is it sustainable to burn biofuels to produce electricity?...

BBC - Richard Black's Earth Watch: Unlikely marriage powers ahead

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No-one here really wants to be doom-laden about it, but it's a reality that more and more are having to face: the UN climate process could be grinding to a halt.

BBC - Richard Black's Earth Watch: Unlikely marriage powers ahead

Bristol will merge with Bath by 2050????

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I thought it was 9 Dec today not the 1 April! What ridiculous rubbish this prediction is - and its also ridiculous that its taken John Savage, his 'expert' team of town planners and £250,000 to come up with this idea and say that its a good thing!

WITHIN 40 years, Bristol and Bath will have merged into a single sprawling conurbation – to become one of the major economic powerhouses of Europe.

What will this mighty new supercity be known as? "BristolBath", is the name on the lips of John Savage, executive president of GWE Business West. Some might even shorten this to Brath.

The chamber of commerce has spent £250,000 on creating a new "blueprint" for the way Bristol will evolve over the next two generations.

Mr Savage, and his team of expert town planners, are predicting that Bristol will be a very different place by 2050...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Views on the Bristol City new stadium in the green belt issue

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Several excellent letters in this series in today's Post (link below). Have a look at the one that describes how staging major sporting events does not boost the economy - and also the one about how Bristol City Council gambled away hundreds of thousands of pounds on trying to get a bit of world cup football here for a few weeks.

I T is argued that Bristol City cannot go forward without a new stadium. Well, lots of Premier League and Championship teams have not gone to new stadiums and are still doing okay.

Monday, December 06, 2010

   Stockwood Pete: Whipping Yarns

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"We're not being whipped" Cabot's LibDem councillor Alex Woodman told the council debate on abandoning the sell-off of the city's green spaces....

Stockwood Pete: Whipping Yarns

Green Higher Education Policies

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Given all the debate on tuition fees, university funding, student protests and the surrounding political turmoil, in the Lib Dems especially, readers may be interested in the Greens policies on Higher Education in full:

Higher Education - principles, rationale, context

ED230 As a Green government will be working towards sustainable living and not consumption-led growth, Higher Education, like schools and colleges, will need to change to reflect the kinds of knowledge, skills and vision that are needed. Our society will need people to be educated to the highest level of which they are capable.

ED231 Evidence suggests that the best results are achieved by people who have an active desire to study at this level when they feel ready, rather than be an automatic extension of Further Education.

ED232 Higher Education is essential in developing a civilized society. Education should continue to be treated as a process and not a product. It should enable a democratisation of knowledge and skills which are available to anyone who wants to study for a degree regardless of their age or background.

ED233 Higher Education is facing a funding crisis. Departments are closing, students are being forced to pay increasing fees for their education, lecturers are working longer hours and receiving worsening pay and conditions and the student to tutor ratio is increasing.

ED234 Under a Green government there would be no student loans as there would be no tuition fees and living costs would be met by Citizen’s Income. In the short term we will reintroduce student grants to meet living costs.

ED235 Due to the nature of the economic growth we have been experiencing there has been a shift in recent years away from manufacture and industry-related subjects. Whilst trends in the subjects students choose to study will continue to evolve there will be sufficient funding to protect minority subjects and to cater for potential swings back.
ED236 The Green Party will support a properly funded, accessible Higher Education system which would reverse these trends.

ED237 Currently the standard of achievement of students with comparable degrees and results from different institutions is inconsistent.

ED238 There will be much more rigour applied to ensure consistency through external accreditation systems.

ED239 Higher Education will offer real support to mature students and students with families. There will be a minimum requirement for Universities and Higher Education Institutions to offer a free crèche to students and staff, nappy changing and breast-feeding facilities as well as religious facilities such as prayer spaces to cater for people from a wide range of ages, religions and ethnic backgrounds.

ED240 Accessibility will be addressed through a combination of these institutions offering Widening Participation Programmes and creating a series of firm targets which will ensure increased social diversity.

ED241 It is essential that there is not a commercial bias in research undertaken in Higher Education Institutions.

ED242 There will be sufficient funding to encourage independent and ethical research.

ED243 The Green Party recognises that under the current system the ability of students transferring from school or Further Education to Higher Education is extremely diverse, sometimes depending on their social background or the school / college they attended.

ED244 Until this is no longer the case, in order to ensure full accessibility and high standards, institutions will be funded to offer an externally accredited Access Courses to students they consider to have the potential to study at a Higher Level but who are not yet ready for it.

ED245 Currently many Higher Education Institutions are dependent on international students due to the inflated fees they pay. In some cases this can lead them to accept international students who are less able than EU students who they reject.
ED246 Under a Green Government Higher Education Institutions will be properly funded by the state so that where international students are fee-paying the amount the institution charges will more accurately reflect the true cost.

ED247 At the same time schemes would be set up to provide funding both for places for less wealthy students from developing countries and at the same time to develop Higher Education in developing countries through partnership projects so that in the longer term they will not need to travel. Subject areas where there is a shortage of skills in that particular country (for example Medicine and Engineering) will be prioritised.

ED248 Currently some institutions have some of the worst records for their environmental footprint.

ED249 Under a Green government Higher Education will adhere to the same stringent regulations as large businesses and other institutions.

BBC News - Child poverty 'rises' among working households

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Child poverty within working households is rising and now accounts for 58% of all UK cases, a report has found.
A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report says there are 2.1 million impoverished youngsters in homes where parents are in work - up slightly on last year.
Co-author Tom MacInnes said it showed work alone was not the answer to lifting people above the bread line...

BBC News - Child poverty 'rises' among working households

BBC News - Judges to consider equality challenge to Budget

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The government will be forced to defend its Budget in the High Court later, against claims it broke equalities law.
The Fawcett Society is seeking a judicial review, arguing that ministers failed to consider the impact of tax and welfare changes on women.
The women's rights group says £5.8bn of the £8bn savings outlined in June's Budget would come from women...

BBC News - Judges to consider equality challenge to Budget

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Vote Yes to changing our unfair voting system

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Good that an office has been opened in Bristol to campaign to change the voting system in next May's referendum. AV is a step in the right direction and has the advantage of demonstrating that electoral system change is wanted, if voted through. AV undermines tactical voting because every vote - not just votes for the eventual winner - will count given that voters can express first, second, third - and further - choices as appropriate.

A CAMPAIGN office to promote a Yes vote to change the voting system in a referendum next May is being opened in Bristol today.

More on why the alternative vote (AV) is an improvement on the current first past the post voting system here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Climate Change Denial » ONE REPORT- TWO HEADLINES

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Great example on George Marshall's blog: How does one scientific report generate two entirely contradictory stories and headlines? This is a perfect example of how information on climate change is filtered by the newsmedia and distorted to fit the politics and worldview of their readers.

Climate Change Denial » ONE REPORT- TWO HEADLINES

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - American Dream, Plenty and Paranoia

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This is a great series and for me is very compelling viewing. Its not endearing me to a lot of what America stands for...

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - American Dream, Plenty and Paranoia

"The American dream" - a phrase coined in 1931 that has become a national motto. It represents a unique brand of optimism that goes to the heart of what it is to be American. It is a simple phrase but a complex notion whose meaning is sustained and challenged by each generation.

After World War Two ended, Americans faced a future that seemed not only full of promise but also replete with danger. The United States emerged as the richest and most powerful nation in the world yet its safety and even its existence were widely perceived to be threatened as never before.

This series features those who helped foster and sell the dream, those who feel they have lived it, as well as those who challenge or reject the very notion. Through rare archive and eyewitness testimony, this series explores the realities behind America's most powerful myth - from the eve of the Second World War to the end of the Vietnam War.

More information and links here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

1 comment:
Watched this with great interest, especially given all the stadium debate in Bristol that's been going on for ages. The extent and scale of the corruption was shocking. Well done to the BBC and others in the media for exposing it. Interesting that the Dutch have found, having looked at both the costs and benefits of staging a world cup, that they'd make a 150 million euro loss - so much for the economic benefits of staging the event! Make a case to stage it because you love football. Make a case to stage it because football originated here...and we are so well set up for it because its inherent in our culture - but dont bleat on about the value to the economy because net financial benefit is very hard to establish. Same goes for the Olympics and other major international sporting events.

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

The program is available in iPlayer here.

Green stadium design for an aspiring green capital?

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'Why not outline for us how a man like yourself with so many letters after your name would achieve for the people of Bristol such a facility along sustainable development principles?' says sharp tongued Bristol Evening Post online debater Mark from Bristol.

I dont pretend to have all the answers but sustainable development is good sense not rocket science. First, dont build over green land in the green belt - either redevelop Ashton Gate or find a suitable brownfield site near existing good transport links. Second, seriously consider sharing any new ground. Thirdly use well established green design principles eg the One Planet Living Principles that are outlined here:

I took part in the BCFC consultation and submitted some ideas on green stadium design plus examples of several football clubs who have used green design principles (see here and Dartford FCs Princes Park stadium design, pictured). Despite asking for a response by email and phone call I received none. Had city gone for a top notch green stadium design it would have been much harder for people like me to oppose it - and perhaps it would have been harder for Ashton Vale people too. Shouldn't our aspiring 'green capital' have a green football stadium??

New ground in the green belt is unsustainable development

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The Bristol Evening Post is absolutely right to speak out against plan to sell off and build over parks green spaces within the city (‘Council must see bigger picture’, Post June 29). I fully agree with them when they said that green spaces are ‘not simply there for this generation’ and that we are merely ‘custodians of these open spaces’. This sustainable development argument also applies to the green belt land where the new BCFC stadium is proposed. As a strong supporter of the proposed stadium however the Post is being very inconsistent - and one has to ask why.

Building a new BCFC stadium in the green belt is based on outmoded, old fashioned, discredited economic thinking. Our council has 'green capital' ambitions and so should be implementing sustainable development as an alternative to the current economic orthodoxy. Mainstream politics has said it was signed up to sustainable development decades ago but has done little or nothing to implement it.

Current economic thinking centres on growing the economy based on resources that are finite and non-renewable. There is only so much land for instance and we and other species need it for multiple purposes - using it for a game of football is hardly top priority.

We need instead to be selective about what grows in our economy -including football grounds - and ensure that economic development meets tests of: resource efficiency; renewability; being within environmental limits; meeting needs now and into the future; local and global fairness; human health, wellbeing and quality of life; stronger local communities. Town Green status for the land in Ashton Vale is in tune with sustainable devleopment and so I fully support it.

More on 'ground vs green'

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Copies of further comments I made yesterday in the online 'ground vs green' debate (below). 'Dog Walker' was one of the few to respond to my posts:

Dog Walker - by 'dealt with' you mean ignored or dismissed! This must be so because: f this stadium is built green belt land will be lost; carbon emissions will rise; natural flood drainage space will go; land with food production potential will go; wildlife habitats will be smaller in area; green space important to human health will be cut. Our current system has warm green words but little or no green action - which is why planning permission was given.

We are in agreement that our MPs are not competent drafters of the law! I dont agree with your assessment of my democratic credentials however - your way of thinking would mean that law has no value in a democracy and that there should be, in effect, no such thing as local democracy. I believe our democracy is not localised enough whereas your line of argument leads, in effect, to Vogons from another planet [pictured, from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film] being allowed to turn up out of the blue and destroy the whole planet.

You make the big mistake of assuming that building this stadium will have a net positive effect on jobs and investment. To my knowledge no-one has done the research sums to see if total benefits exceed total costs, taking into account all factors, including those I've mentioned above. Mostly what we hear about is benefits - my point is ok but what about the costs?? This the opposite of selfishness, Carl, because its trying to account for the impacts both on current generations and the generations of people to come - once green land is built over its nigh on impossible to get it back again.

Dog Walker - its so convenient for you to simply dismiss a whole range of health and environmental arguments isn't it. Is this a ground vs green debate or not? You seem to be ducking out to me. The planning process has no objective evidence whatsoever that total benefits outweigh total costs - and a decision taken on the basis of little or no evidence is irrational.

Why is it that you dont want to talk about and deal properly with climate change, biodiversity, habitats, flood management, human health and quality of life?? Where is your evidence that net economic benefits will result (you only state a possible benefit and mention no disbenefits)? Could it not be argued that the stadium proposal is an inappropriate development based on outmoded, old-fashioned, discredited economic thinking and that therefore persuing it would be unwise ? Bristol is supposed to have 'green capital' ambitions after all.

Given that we've gone beyond the planning process now wouldn't giving the land town green status mean that it would be maintain our ability to: fight climate change; increase wildlife; manage flooding; keep people healthy...If you built a stadium the opposite would happen and therefore shouldn't someone estimate the costs/benefits of all this in order for a rational decision to be made?

My point about Vogons [pictured] is not extending the argument to absurdity at all. Its my view that local democracy should count for much more than it does - and that the law should help prevent locals from being bullied into a situation they dont want. The law on town greens does empower people to apply for their space to be protected. You have not indicated that you would like any form of local democracy or legal processes to protect a community and its space and so in effect you are saying that if, as in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Vogons turn up one day to destroy our planet then that's all ok.

Monday, November 29, 2010

BBC - Live - Ground v Green debate

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Here's where you can watch the debate live, if you dont have a ticket to get in.

BBC - Live - Ground v Green debate (UK)

Or listen here if you are not in the UK.

Ground vs Green

1 comment:
Just chipped in to the 'Ground vs Green' debate going on on the Evening Post website, particularly in response to someone calling themselves 'another cynic' because they did not regard opposing building a stadium in the green belt as rational. Here's my contribution to a debate that is, as usual, of the very highest quality (!!):

'I think most rational people would be pro stadium. The only thing to be cynical about is the use of the TVG laws by a minority of people to undermine the workings of the democratic planning process.' said another cynic.

What's rational about:

- designating land as green belt and then not protecting it?

-the council/govt saying we need to fight climate change and then turning land from a net absorber to a net emitter of carbon?

-expressing concern about the need to be ready to deal with flooding caused by the sudden heavy rains we now get and then removing land that naturally absorbs and steadily releases flood water?

-saying wildlife needs to be protected but then concreting over habitats?
-having government agencies like Natural England working to show how necessary to our physical, mental and social health green spaces are and how we all need to live close to a green space and then removing said spaces?

-saying what a good idea local food production is, especially in view of things like peak oil, and then reducing the land area available to grow food locally?

-MPs strengthening the law on town and village green establishment in both 2000 and 2006 then going on to campaign against the use of the laws they established??

By the way another cynic, the current planning process is a statutory ie legal process primarily and not a democratic one. Though it has a democratic element to it through the involvement of elected Councillors and Secretary of State, they are supposed to be guided by rules and regulations not a party line...hopefully to establish a rational outcome. The Ground vs Green debate will not be finally resolved by petition or voting but by the law that is an essential feature of a modern democratic system - and in this instance it may well prevent a wider majority view prevailing over a very local majority view.

Debate on new BCFC ground

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THE Ground v Green debate to discuss plans for a 30,000-seat stadium at Ashton Vale will be broadcast live tonight from 7pm.

The Evening Post and BBC Radio Bristol have joined forces to organise the high-profile debate on one of the biggest issues in the city for years...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stop Sainsbury's on Ashton Gate

Link to Stop Sainsbury's website...

STOP SAINSBURY’S is a group of local residents, campaigning to stop plans to rebuild the local store at DOUBLE ITS CURRENT SIZE on the Ashton Gate football ground. This would make it a regional destination and “the biggest Sainsbury’s in the South West”.

Find out more about the
revised Sainsbury’s proposal, or find out what you can do to help by writing to the planning department or getting in touch with your local councillor. Every letter and email will count in this decision process, so make sure that your voice gets heard.

use the contact form to send us your details and we can keep you up to date.

Together we can stop a new superstore in BS3 for the third time.

Science Museum's Atmosphere Gallery

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Energy and money saving website,, is hosting a live Q&A session with the Science Museum on Monday between 1 and 2 pm to celebrate the opening of the Science Museum’s Atmosphere Gallery on Friday 3 Dec. You can learn more about the new gallery here.

The Atmosphere Gallery is a new permanent feature of the museum which explores climate science. Gallery content developer Alex Fairhead will be on hand to answer questions on how science and technology will shape the future, and to discuss living in a low-carbon world. There are more details here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

European countries need to triple efforts to decarbonise

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A new tracking tool launched today by WWF and renewable energy business Ecofys reveals only about a third of the action needed to put European Union countries on a path towards a low carbon economy by 2050, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95%, is currently underway. The report and which available online by clicking here is called the Climate Policy Tracker for the European Union and claims to provide for the first time an up-to-date snapshot of greenhouse gas emission controls across the EU using a state-by-state and sector-by sector analysis...

European countries need to triple efforts to decarbonise

House of cards economics

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Work on the economy continues at the Treasury, in Ireland, in the EU, at the IMF and in many other places around the globe. There's little stability in a house of cards however.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tesco ignore the need for planning permission??

Tesco were refused planning permission for the entranceway/doors and windows they wanted in the former Friendship Inn - but they appear to have gone ahead and installed them anyway! They have appealed against the refusal - but it cannot be right for them to install ahead of permission as this would make a mockery of the whole system. Obviously they feel they can give themselves permission!

PLANS to bulldoze hundreds of homes in Knowle West as part of a massive regeneration project might be scrapped.

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I hope they abandon plans to knock down hundreds of homes in Inns Court - not least because the people living there - and the community around them - dont want this destructive demolition. Just think of what a home means to people and what they have of themselves invested in their home. Great to hear that the most popular regeneration plan is the one produced by the Knowle West Residents Planning Group.

PLANS to bulldoze hundreds of homes in Knowle West as part of a massive regeneration project might be scrapped.

Council officials have collated the views of residents and discovered while 84 per cent support regenerating the area, only about one in three (36 per cent) agreed with knocking down Inns Court.
More than half (52 per cent) said the estate should be infilled with new homes.
The residents' option, put forward by the Knowle West Residents Planning Group, offered alternatives to widescale demolition and was the most popular, with 40 per cent support...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flak for Cllr Gary Hopkins 'build over green spaces' tsar

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Remove this superior, arrogant, rude - and undemocratic - Cllr from office the next time he stands for election - along with any who side with him.

L ISTENING to Councill0r Gary Hopkins made me extremely suspicious and concerned that the green spaces debate is a "fait accompli".

Mr Hopkins seemed to be on a different planet or wavelength regarding the reaction of the people living in the communities affected.
The majority of the communities are not in favour of these proposals, quite the reverse I would suggest, unless you are within an area that would be gaining some facility yet losing areas. Many people have attended meetings, responded to questionnaires, written letters and voiced opinions on these proposals, including those with a great love of their environment and years of community experience, plus others with a great deal of experience from their working careers.
Mr Hopkins' attendance at our local meeting was a disgrace as a representative of our council. His superior, arrogant and rude attitude towards those attending did nothing to present the council's proposals to attract useful comment or a reasoned discussion. It made those attending feel that "your thoughts are a waste of your time" and resulted in a majority vote for him to leave the meeting, which he did not...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mabinogogiblog: Greens must uphold the principle of non-violence.

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Good post reminding us of a key green principle.

Mabinogogiblog: Greens must uphold the principle of non-violence.

Here's an extract from one of my previous posts about when, why and how breaking the law (non-violently) might be justified...

Few people, if any, would argue that law breaking is never justifiable - think of prominent examples of law breaking to achieve positive social change like Vaclav Havel and the 'Velvet Revolution' in 1989, perhaps inspired by people like Mahatma Gandhi to gain independence in India and Martin Luther King Jr campaigning for civil rights in the USA.

I do belong to a radical party that has this core value: 'Electoral politics is only one way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.'

It is justifiable to break the law when campaigning and in fact some may feel compelled or duty-bound to do so, often inspired by people like Gandhi (who in turn was influenced by Henry David Thoreau) . However, if the law is broken it must, in my view, generally: appeal directly to the sense of justice of the majority; not reject the rule of law; be non-violent; accept lawful punishment that results; be a shrewd tactical move (why do it otherwise?); be consistent with core green values.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CAMPAIGNERS fighting Bristol City Council's plans to sell off green spaces are calling on people to join a protest meeting next week.

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting Bristol City Council's plans to sell off green spaces are calling on people to join a protest meeting next week.

The council has faced ongoing criticism for the area green spaces plan, which proposes selling off 62 sites across the city to fund improvements in other parks. Public consultation officially came to an end at the end of October, but residents are still hoping to get their message across. The protest is planned for 1pm on Tuesday, ahead of the full council meeting at the Council House on College Green at 2pm...Depending on the outcome of the motion to scrap the plan, a second protest is pencilled in for December 16, when a decision on which sites will be sold off is due to be made by the council cabinet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Research: biofuels significantly worsen climate change

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Britain's promise to more than double its use of biofuels by 2020 is "significantly" adding to worldwide carbon emissions, the Government admitted yesterday. Britain is signed up to a European guarantee to source 10 per cent of its transport fuel from renewable sources, such as biofuels, within the next 10 years.

But ministers have said that the policy is proving counter-productive and the greenhouse emissions associated with biofuels are substantially greater than the savings. They are now urging the European Commission to rethink the plan. The admission coincides with a major study published this week which concludes that biofuels will create an extra 56 million tons of CO2 per year – the equivalent of 12 to 26 million cars on Europe's roads by 2020.

This is because Europe will need to cultivate an area somewhere between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland with biofuels to meet the target, which can only be done through land conversion – and more controversially, deforestation. The work will be on such a scale that the carbon released from the vegetation, trees and soil will be far greater than those given off by fossil fuels they are designed to replace.

The study, from the Institute for European Environmental Policy, found that far from being 35 to 50 per cent less polluting, as required by the European Directive, the extra biofuels will be twice as bad for the environment...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010 » The Lax Tax Pact

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Trying saying this quickly! Another great piece from George Monbiot. » The Lax Tax Pact

Letters: Greed not greens cause hunger | Environment | The Guardian

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Excellent letter in The Guardian:

Letters: Greed not greens cause hunger Environment The Guardian

Channel 4 documentary What the Green Movement Got Wrong (Last night's TV, 5 November) in our view made a series of misguided and inaccurate allegations and assumptions. It identified GM as a solution to hunger and implicated anti-GM campaigners for exacerbating food insecurity. As development organisations, we consider the documentary was extremely biased against environmental organisations that do so much to promote positive solutions. Hunger is a blight on humanity, but it is a political and economic problem. Its root causes include the broken and biased trading system; the bankers who gamble on the price of staple foods; and land grabs by financiers – all of which make food unaffordable for the hungry and deny their right to food.

In our view, the most significant impact that GM companies have made is to dominate the seed chain, selling expensive and patented seeds to farmers, seeds that are used more for livestock feed, cotton and biofuels – not for feeding people. The documentary didn't include any independent voices from civil society in the global south who are campaigning against GM and for local sustainable food production.

Had they done so, it is likely to have become clear that the small-scale farmers who provide food for most people in the world are not calling for GM technologies that are beyond their control. They are calling for political will from governments to take on the corporate lobbyists and protect their land, natural resources and production systems; a fair trading system to ensure fair prices; and a fair hearing from governments and documentary-makers on the future food system.

Deborah Doane
World Development Movement
Patrick Mulvany
UK Food Group
Andrew Scott
Practical Action
John Hilary
War on Want

BRISTOL City Council has admitted it may have to make up to £70 mil- lion of spending cuts over the next four years – £20m higher than previously announced.

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I'm worried about the implications of this for vital services eg care for the elderly. Aren't we supposed to be remembering the contributions people made in the world wars? Many of these people are now in care homes or in need of care support to remain in their homes - we should be looking after them well.

BRISTOL City Council has admitted it may have to make up to £70 mil- lion of spending cuts over the next four years – £20m higher than previously announced.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Effective Labour Shadow Cabinet?

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I think its becoming pretty clear that Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet are not performing well and not making an impact as an effective opposition (click image to enlarge). Why for instance did they not strongly make the point that the recent much bigger than expected economic growth figures are a result of Labour's policies and action whilst Alistair Darling was Chancellor? I'm not an economist but I know a bit about politics, decision making and complex systems, which includes economies. Its crystal clear that this coalition government cant possibly be responsible for the last set of growth figures because they've simply not been in power anything like long enough to have any effect.

There is a time lag between government economic policy/action and effects appearing so we'll only begin to see the impacts of the coalition government on growth as more months and years go by. We are however seeing the effects of the previous Labour government now. Labour's weak shadow treasury team failed to strongly point this out, made only lame comments and tended to talk down the economy. Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet failed to go with what is both the truth and the best political strategy/tactic and take the credit for the growth figures - so maybe former Labour cabinet member Jack Straw was right when he said that a third of the new shadow cabinet is incapable - maybe its more than a third!

Will Cameron live up to this statement??

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David Cameron Strategy Challenge (Jonathon Porritt)

“Our action to cut the deficit might be making the headlines today. But if we get it right, our action to cut carbon emissions and move to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy could become one of the defining stories of the new politics of the Coalition. This Government will back strong rhetoric with decisive action”.(David Cameron)

Great quote. And good to see a contrast made between the kind of leadership required to deal with the deficit and the kind of leadership required to address climate change.
Six months on from the General Election in May, not a single citizen in the UK will have any residual doubt about the deficit priority. But apart from the usual suspects that make up the Green Movement today, that quality of leadership on the environment and climate change has been largely invisible to everyone else.

Sometime soon, the Prime Minister is therefore going to have to get his vision of “the greenest government ever” out and about. However beautifully crafted by his speech writers, one or two ‘keynote green speeches’ just won’t cut it. Warm words sort of help people feel better about things, but, in reality, they are next to useless when it comes to making things happen.

Happily, David Cameron has a perfect opportunity to hand to get this sorted before the first anniversary of the General Election next year – via the simple process of developing a brand new Sustainable Development Strategy for the UK.

The current (but time-expired) strategy played a hugely important role in getting Sustainable Development out of the clutches of DEFRA and properly embedded across the whole of government – and indeed across the whole of the UK. It helped make a lot of things happen, and the Sustainable Development Commission was able to use it to make considerable progress in a host of areas. It was widely admired by other countries struggling to make sense of their own sustainable development challenges.

So all the Prime Minister has to do is to take the same approach as he did with CO2 emissions through the organisation 10:10 – committing to a 10% reduction in emissions from the central government estate by May next year, and then instructing his Cabinet Ministers (and Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell) that there was to be no further discussion about this – something that Tony Blair (let alone Gordon Brown) never did in quite such robust terms.

So all he has to do is to instruct Caroline Spelman to get on and do what she already should have done in committing to a new Sustainable Development Strategy, given that the existing five year strategy came to an end in July. Instruct Chris Huhne, Vince Cable, Michael Gove, Philip Hammond and Andrew Lansley to help get it sorted out as expeditiously and as positively as possible. And instruct George Osborne not to let the Treasury bugger it up.

With that kind of prime ministerial push behind them, “delivering a new Sustainable Development Strategy” seems a suitably modest additional test for Spelman and Huhne. After all, these were the two that were stupid enough to make a knee-jerk decision to get rid of the Sustainable Development Commission, before they had any clue at all about what they were really doing, and have rather pathetically been trying to put things right since then. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the evidence that the Sustainable Development Commission has just presented to the Environmental Audit Committe’s Inquiry into what should happen to SD in Government, once the SDC disappears next April.

Far more eloquently and reasonably than I could possibly manage (still being more than a bit pissed off about what happened earlier in the year), it lays out exactly what it is that the SDC does, exactly how it gets it done, and exactly what the outcomes have been. No false claims, no whingeing – just a comprehensive, very professional account of what happens today and what the Government will now need to get done by other means.

So do have a look at it:

No world cup football here??

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Yet another reason not to build a new Bristol City football stadium in the green belt - looks like the chances of England hosting the 2018 World Cup have nosedived...

BBC Sport - Football - Fifa row has "harmed" England 2018 World Cup bid

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Ruscombe Green: University decision a disgrace

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Well said Green Cllr Phillip Booth, this is my view exactly. Private up, public down.

Ruscombe Green: University decision a disgrace

...University education it seems must now be viewed solely as a personal asset, and those lucky enough to get it should foot the bill. This is a radical departure from how we once conceived the public realm. When I was lucky enough to go to University higher education was seen as a social good, enriching our whole society rather than merely an individual's future salary. Universities passed onto the next generation knowledge and added to it. As one commentator said: "They were about learning rather than earning."

Higher education should be a shared public good not just a prize for individuals. Already we have seen under Labour more wealthy children going to the more prestigous universities - the Coalition will now be entrenching still further the inequalities.

Are you sure religious faith is a good idea?

Just a few topical examples to back my point:

Rev Wallace Benn: Campaign for women bishops 'just like Nazis in 1939' Mail Online

A Church of England bishop caused outrage last night by linking those who support the ordination of women bishops to the Nazis.
An Iranian woman who faced being stoned to death will hang today, a human rights group has claimed.
The International Committee Against Stoning said that the authorities had given the go-ahead for the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
Her fate has provoked international outcry after she was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery...

Canny Cable's Capitalist Con

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Vince Cable was reported as attacking capitalism in his Lib Dem conference speech but in fact he played it pretty cannily - if you view politics on terms like his ie NOT 'what you see is what you get'. He was entertaining, used humour and exaggeration effectively and saw to it that his speech was widely circulated to the media beforehand. He used some colourful language, ‘spivs’, ‘gamblers’, ‘murky world’, ‘markets...rigged’ – which the media zoom in on – and drew just the (‘angry’) reaction he wanted from the business world. All of this created the general impression that Business Secretary Vince wanted and more than got him through what might have been a difficult Lib Dem conference. West Country Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg described it -pretty accurately - as ‘throwing a few lentils’ to his party faithful. I’d describe it as leading everyone on a merry dance (see picture for evidence) - using spin in an attempt to put us in a spin, confusing and causing problems for us with deception/disguise and behaving in a way that hides realities.

Being keen to understand all variations of and views on capitalism – never more so than since capitalist economic systems around the world took many industrial economies to the very brink due to the banking crisis – I closely watched the Cable speech and have followed some of his pronouncements since. Vince Cable stressed the importance of finance, the deficit and its ‘correction’ through cuts and freezing public sector pay. He spoke of how economic growth is essential, how we must remove obstacles to growth and how it should be led private enterprise (he's since stressed the importance of growth eg here). He referred to his agenda as pro-market, pro-business – with competition central - and how high taxes on rich people and companies could send them abroad. The privatisation of Royal Mail was mentioned and he referred to graduates as having to make a bigger contribution to the cost of their higher education (what has since emerged is the creeping privatisation of higher education through the establishment of a free market in tuition fees). Vince has since stressed how he wants to speed up Royal Mail privatisation.

Does this sound like a firmly capitalist approach or an attack on capitalism to you?? Andrew Neil said in his analysis immediately after the speech that he thought it faced in two directions at once. Ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling described Cable’s speech as ‘political hokey cokey’ (great phrase!). In my view the speech liberally (and Liberal Democratically!) sprinkled firm capitalist policies and actions amongst crowd-pleasing rhetoric designed to create the impression of anti-capitalism! There is certainly debate about precisely what capitalism is but few, if any, would dispute that it involves private ownership, private profit, decisions made by a market and economic growth as the primary aim – all which are extended by Vince Cable’s policies and actions along with those of the Coalition Government he is fully signed up to. So, its Vince Capitalist then.
[I'll follow up on this post with a further analysis of capitalism later]