Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bristol LibDems to defy their own anti-road building policies | News

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Bristol LibDems to defy their own anti-road building policies News

Another Lib Dem flip flop as the Bristol Cabinet approved the road - you just dont know where you stand with them. This list of examples of how Lib Dems change their policies from town to town and city to city to suit their opportunism grows longer.

Bristol Greens make an Older People's Pledge | News

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Bristol Greens make an Older People's Pledge News

The Green Party today becomes the only political party to back demands for a state pension of £170 per week and a better future for older people in Britain.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

'Where will your child learn to swim when Bristol community pools close?' | Bristol

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'Where will your child learn to swim when Bristol community pools close?' Bristol

I agree with the teacher in this story very strongly - let nots forget that Jubilee in Knowle, not listed in the story, is due to close in 2011. More on the issue here:

Vote for Policies - Vote for policies, not personalities!

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Vote for Policies - Vote for policies, not personalities!

Health and air quality

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George Ferguson is spot on to highlight the serious health effects of air pollution (By George, Post, March 29). Each year 24,000 people die prematurely in our country because of it. Up to one in five of all lung cancers are caused by it. Children are particularly vulnerable as they get a bigger dose per unit of body mass. Those already suffering ill-health eg from asthma, bronchitis, heart problems or obesity and so on are at particular risk - though air pollution causes coughing, chest pains and lung irritation in everyone.

It’s a stark reminder of what should be self-evident – that people are a part of the environment and that their health and wellbeing are dependent upon it. I’m not shocked by the figures (which some sources state are higher than I've given) in the sense that I’ve worked to point out the problem for some decades now. We really must join the dots and see connections: types of development such as large supermarkets; car dependency and congestion; air pollution; poor health; reduced wellbeing and quality of life. Greens haven’t campaigned against air pollution just because its an environmental issue – its also a development, transport, planning, economic, health and social issue. It needs to be tackled by joined up thinking, which we so clearly have not done if you just look around the city and the country.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Significant stats (6): Earth's population is 80 million higher every year

2 extra people every second, that is 200,000 each day or nearly 80,000,000 per year is human population growth on this planet - all needing food, water, warmth, shelter and aspiring to have good choices and a decent life. There are nearly seven billion people on Earth already. This cant be sustained and we should be doing something about it, which is why I am a supporter of the Optimum Population Trust and keen to encourage debate on this issue.

Closing ranks

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There is evidence all over the place of people in organisations, especially large ones, closing ranks to protect themselves and their institutions whether they are in the wrong or not...MPs moved quickly to condemn those not just greedy but stupid fellow MPs recently caught on camera hiring out their services. The Catholic Church is attempting to defend the Pope from accusations of child abuse cover ups. Banks defend giving large bonuses. All big businesses have huge PR budgets and legal experts. Further examples are easy to find in places like Parliament and the NHS. I have personal experience of this kind of behaviour from: the NHS in Bristol; Bristol City Council; care homes; schools and colleges. I'm sure I'm far from alone in my experience - and in thinking that because of the way organisations protect themselves we only get to know the tip of the iceberg. So, I pledge that I will continue, whether elected or not, to do all I can to: expose and oppose all such behaviour: campaign for large organisations to be scaled to a more human level: spread power out within institutions and to all their users; maximise information availability and general transparency and accountability; and for organisations to go beyond token consultation, to maximise the opportunity for people to be empowered and fully participate.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cut Trident, save £97 billion, protect public services

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Received the email copied below from Greenpeace today. I agree entirely with them that we should cut out the Trident nuclear weapons replacement and save £97 billion - and help protect essential public services from cuts. Whilst on the topic of military spending we've spent £8-£9 billion on the war in Afghanistan over the last 8yrs or so too - lets bring our troops home, save our soldiers lives and avoid spending a further £8-£9 billion in the next 8yrs too.
Hot on the heels of our 'In the Firing Line' investigation, which showed that Trident replacement will cost UK taxpayers a shocking £97 billion, we’re busy campaigning to stop the UK building new nuclear weapons.

In December we projected a 100 foot high message to the Chancellor onto Big Ben – an image of a Trident missile with the caption: 'Darling...Cut the crap'.

But yesterday Alistair Darling missed a golden opportunity in the pre-election budget. He could have cancelled Trident, and used the money to help fund new green jobs, protect frontline services and reduce the nation's debts.

Instead, he preferred to effectively cut public sector pay and services by reducing government departmental spending by £11bn.

With an election in the offing, now is the time to tell politicians that we want our hard-earned taxes spent on things we actually need, not wasted on doomsday machines which many former generals admit have no military value.

So we've made it easy for you to write to all your parliamentary candidates in one go, to ask them if they are happy to waste £97bn on a weapon which is irrelevant to the real threats we face.

For inspiration, visit our
video wall to get ideas about how we could better spend this enormous sum of money. For just £2bn, for example, we could reduce class sizes in UK schools down to an average of 20 by 2020. We could spend it on tackling climate change and fuel poverty.
On the wall you can post your own views about how this huge amount of cash could be better spent, and you can also watch our Cut Trident animation (complete with soundtrack by Massive Attack) or spread the word by sharing it with your friends.

With President Obama committing to reduce nuclear weapons, and the US and Russia close to agreeing a new arms control treaty, the possibility of a nuclear-free world is no longer pie-in-the-sky. With your help, we want to put the phrase 'Cut Trident' on everyone's lips in the run up to this election, and take a big step towards making it a reality.

Thanks so much for your support,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Budget? What budget?

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Copy of a letter written by me, first published in the Bristol Observer in April 1990, about the budget of the day (pictured, click for larger version). Almost every word of it applies directly to today's budget - that's how much the economics of sustainability has advanced at the top of Government despite the glut of evidence that we desperately need it for our health, our jobs and our future! The only glimmer of promise was the setting up of a green investment bank but even that had too little money backing it. Basically this budget was hardly a budget at all, more a straight political speech, eyes firmly on the general election.

The budget could have been used as an opportunity to put our economy on the right road. This chance was wasted. It could have been used to set us on the road away from the rat race of non-selective economic growth, which is wasteful and polluting – it did not.

It could have helped create a way of life we can afford in both economic, social and environmental terms – it did not. It could have helped create the jobs that need people, by building on the resources of the people – it did not.

It could have helped to build a more self-reliant and stable economy – instead we are still reliant on a system of international finance which cannot last much longer. It could have started to establish an economy which can be sustained into the future, without killing our environment and exploiting the people – it did not.

...Instead there are signs the Chancellor had the…next general election in mind. He wanted to set the scene for favourable short term conditions to get elected next time – and he has probably failed even to do that. What a lack of courage and vision he showed.

Epetitioner: Say No to Park and Ride on Stapleton Allotments

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Say No to Park and Ride on Stapleton Allotments

Another Lib Dem flip flop?

At a St Brendans College meeting with politics students yesterday Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy said she favoured votes for 16 yr olds as the Labour candidate. I said I favoured this too, as the Green candidate. No Tory view was available to students because they couldn't get the candidate or a representative of her there. Lib Dem candidate Mike Popham said he wanted votes for 16 yr olds too - but I picked him up on this, as my recollection was that he had indicated in the DEMREF 2010 survey that he wanted the voting age to stay at 18. He categorically denied that he had done this but when I checked later I found that he had in fact returned the survey saying the voting age should stay at 18 (see screenshot, click to enlarge). So, is this an error of some sort on his or someones part or does he change what he says according to the audience in front of him (as Lib Dems often do)??

BBC News - Lobbying and British politicians

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BBC News - Lobbying and British politicians

We've had expenses scandals. Now its 'MPs for hire' scandals and MPs who break travel rules scandals. Not long before we make Berlusconi look like 'Mr Ethical' and Italian politics look clean!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Liberal Democrats: just what do they stand for??

Watching Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg on The Politics Show this weekend I was disappointed that he was not challenged on the [lack of] consistency and conviction behind Lib Dem policies and action. There’s no shortage of examples:

*Economic policy
Nick Clegg says he wants a fair society BUT has recently stressed his admiration for monetarist, ‘no such thing as society’ Margaret Thatcher! This presumeably will help his work for savage cuts in public services.

The LibDems [so-called] “green tax switch” promises to “cut income tax and switch to green taxes on pollution instead” BUT no serious Green would contemplate this. We need income taxation to pay for schools, hospitals, public services… So-called green tax revenue in place of income taxation means keeping the pollution going, to keep the revenue coming in, so that we don’t then have less money for schools, hospitals, public services…

*Democratic reform policy
Nationally say they want voters to have the power to sack MPs through a recall system BUT in Bristol Lib Dems opposed a Green motion to introduce recall locally.

*Transport policy
Norman Baker has said a LibDem government would stop spending on road building BUT his colleagues in Lancashire support the Lancaster Northern bypass.

Lib Dems wanted a moratorium on road building BUT then wholeartedly supported the Newbury bypass, the Batheaston bypass, the M74 extension in Scotland…

They favour congestion charging nationally BUT are against it in Edinburgh, Manchester and York.

Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has [rightly] complained that British rail passengers pay the highest fares in Europe BUT then he said the LibDems would improve matters by freezing UK rail fares - at the highest level in Europe!

Lib Dems opposed the expansion of Heathrow BUT have been happy to expand Birmingham, Carlisle, Exeter, Liverpool and Norwich airports – and enthused about Manchester airport’s second runway (except Lib Dems in Stockport, under the flightpath!).

*Waste management policy
LibDems in Sheffield argued for a new incinerator BUT in Hull fought against an incinerator. They stopped incineration in Bristol BUT have supported incinerator projects in Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple, and also in Essex.

*Energy policy
Say they want a zero carbon economy by 2050 BUT have opposed windfarm proposals in Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon and Worcestershire and in Lewisham the they voted against a Green Party budget package to insulate 25,000 homes for free. (They have until this year opposed Bristol Green Cllr Charlie Bolton’s budget amendments allocating more money for insulation.)

They say the environment is at the ‘heart of everything’ they do BUT the party is built on flip flopping opportunism not ecological principles. This explains their lack of joined up (systems) thinking, the root of all truly Green politics.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chris Hutt

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Very sad and shocked by news of the death of cycling campaigner and well known blogger Chris Hutt. (

We've lost a great green campaigner with a distinctive libertarian perspective and a very committed, independent-minded and persistent character. I first met Chris over 20 yrs ago and I've worked with him a lot in recent yrs on cycling and green spaces issues. I know just how strongly he felt about excellent achievements like the Bristol to Bath Railway Path.

Tributes to Chris here:

Bristol Traffic

James Barlow

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rights and justice for disabled children

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Just completed and signed the Every Disabled Child Matters pledge (see 1 to 5 below) and sent it off by email. I'm very happy to make this committment. It is one of the essential roles of any MP working for a fair and just society to do the work outlined in the pledge...
1. Meet with disabled children, young people and their families to discuss key issues of concern to them
2. Raise these issues of concern, and promote rights and resources, for disabled children, young people and families from my constituency in Parliament
3. Visit local services for disabled children and their families on a regular basis
4. Support measures to transform services for disabled children and their families, such as the Aiming High for Disabled Children (AHDC) programme in England
5. Find out how funding is being used in my constituency to improve services for disabled children, young people and their families

Candidates who've not signed up yet can find out more information and download a copy of the EDCM Constituency Pledge at .
Please sign it and send a copy through to EDCM either by post: Every Disabled Child Matters, c/o National Children's Bureau, 8 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7QE, email: , or by fax: 020 7843 6313.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Record number of Greens standing in elections

Did an interview with Bristol's Star Radio today on the fact that the Greens are fielding a record number of candidates in elections this year - and how the south west is second only to London in terms of candidate numbers. I was pleased to hear them select and use a clip of me talking about how all issues are Green issues, whether its the NHS, the economy and jobs or education, transport...all are interrelated and we address them coherently, through joined up thinking.

There will be over 300 general election candidates nationally - and for the first time we have candidates in all the Bristol seats, including Kingswood and Bristol North West this time. We will also have candidates standing in every council ward in Bristol up for election and are fighting to retain the Southville seat with our candidate Tess Green (pictured).

We are campaigning for people to vote based on their convictions, for fresh ideas, to clean up the mess that's been made of: the political system (given the MP expenses and other scandals); the economic system (we are still not out of deep recession and have massive debts); investing for the future.

We have a £45 billion investment plan designed to create a million jobs - investing in local work, in social care, in energy efficiciency, in expanded public transport, in clean, renewable energy....



Recognising achievement and promoting science

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Question for Cllr Claire Campion-Smith and Cllr Simon Cook, 25 March Cabinet meeting:

*Bristol doing more to mark the work of Paul Dirac:

Paul Dirac was one of the greatest scientists of the last century. He found a link between Einstein's theory of special relativity and the laws of quantum mechanics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1933 at a very young age.

There is far too little in Bristol to mark his life and the excellence of his work, despite the fact that Bristol produced him - Bishop Rd School; Merchant Venturer's Technical School, which later became Cotham Grammar School; Bristol University; family lived in Monk Rd and Julius Rd in Bishopston and his father was a very well known teacher locally. All we have is a blue plaque on his childhood home, Dirac Road and the Small Worlds sculpture with its plaque which is quite hard to find.

Would it not be more fitting, given the the scale of this man's achievements, as well as being in the interest of promoting science in the city, to further recognise him by: a) arranging for an annual 'Bristol's Paul Dirac Award' for scientific achievement locally/regionally and/or b) arranging for a set of teaching materials to be written and circulated for use in Bristol schools and colleges?

Friday, March 12, 2010

For sale: St Peter's Hospice site in Bristol | Bristol News

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For sale: St Peter's Hospice site in Bristol Bristol News

I'm very sad and also angry about this decision and the previous decision to close St Peters Hospice in Knowle. I campaigned hard with others in the Save Our Hospice group but we were not listened to - its not just the decision I object to, its the very heavy handed and extremely rapid way they have taken it. Such a big decision requires much more and better information and widespread consultation.

Animal welfare

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Had an email announcing the launch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare election manifesto today (copy below). I was asked to consider posting my views so I sent this statement...As a Green I stand for improving animal welfare, whether wild or domestic animals, at home and abroad. I’m for a significant reduction in animal exploitation for commercial purposes, for habitat protection and help for all animals suffering distress.

I’ve always been a very strong supporter of all IFAWs work eg on phasing out commercial whaling, on reducing ocean noise pollution, on enforcing the EU ban of commercial trade in seal products, on protecting UK seals more effectively, on supporting elephant and tiger conservation, on combating the internet wildlife trade and on effective enforcement of the law banning fox hunting.

I’d also stress that Greens want: all animal experiments replaced with more reliable non-animal alternatives; an end to factory farming, and an end to the promotion of factory farming abroad; the encouragement of low meat consumption. We would: ban live animal exports; end the genetic treatment of animals; ban bloodsports; end badger culling; and ban the use of animals in circuses



In your role as a candidate at the next election, I wanted to make you aware of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) election manifesto launched today.

The manifesto sets out IFAW's vision of the responsibilities and challenges that face the next UK Government on key animal welfare issues. The manifesto looks at areas such as whaling, commercial seal hunting, trade in endangered species and hunting with dogs, and makes recommendations in these policy areas.

Or you can view the whole manifesto on IFAW in Action’s election website or by clicking the report image on the right.

A hard copy will also be sent to you in the post in the next few days.

In the coming weeks, we will be asking our supporters to contact you and other candidates in their constituency to seek candidates’ views on animal welfare and conservation issues.

We will also post candidates’ responses on our website. We would be very grateful if you would consider posting your views (and specifically on areas such as whaling, commercial seal hunting, trade in endangered species and hunting with dogs). You can do so on the form at the link below:

I am sure you appreciate the depth and strength of public feeling in these areas. I hope, therefore, you will take the time to view our recommendations and post your views on our site.

Yours sincerely,
Robbie Marsland
Director, IFAW in Action

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Army chief sees no need to replace Trident | Greenpeace UK

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Army chief sees no need to replace Trident Greenpeace UK

Bristol to object to Severnside mass incinerator

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As Cllr Charlie Bolton reports on his blog, Bristol City Council has decided to object to the mass incinerator proposed for Severnside, S. Glos. This is great. I drafted and sent a statement (see below) for the Greens, urging the relevant Bristol City Council planning committee to send an objection to the planning application and to the application for an environmental permit to operate.

Air pollution from smoke, gases and ash from incinerators must be considered as should any heavy metals left in the ash. The cumulative air pollution impacts on people’s health, already suffering in this area, and on the health of nearby designated sites is unsustainable. S Glos should not grant planning permission and the Environment Agency should not give an operating permit to any mass incineration of waste on Severnside – this area is already heavily polluted, impacting on both human and environmental health.

Consider the effects of pollution from this area, added to the pollution already emitted, on the Severn Natura 2000 Marine site. This area was selected against rigorous scientific criteria to protect the most threatened and important species and habitats in Europe. The site is of international significance (UN RAMSAR listed, up to 100,000 birds over-winter there, Slimbridge is just upstream). It is very close to the incinerator site and is protected with tough limits for nutrient nitrogen deposition.

Because of the traffic on the M5 and the other polluting activities already in the area cumulative air pollution is already a real problem. It is our understanding that only insignificant levels of nutrient nitrogen could be permitted by the Environment Agency ie less than 1% of the critical load.

I'm opposed to mass incineration of rubbish because it encourages more waste. Incinerators need a regular feed of rubbish and authorities that have chosen incineration have correspondingly low recycling rates – this incinerator undermines waste reduction, minimisation, reuse and recycling. It offers massive over-capacity for waste facilities in Avonmouth. It runs counter to sustainable waste strategies. Contracts also tend to be very long (at least 25 years), meaning that we will have no way to adapt positively to changes in the waste make-up and volume.

In our view this mass incinerator is not part of a properly considered and appraised local/regional strategy which both acknowledges and acts on the fact that waste reduction, reuse and recycling saves far more energy than is generated by burning waste. Making fewer new things from raw materials is what makes most environmental sense because stocks of raw materials are finite. We should be doing all we can to recover and recycle valuable materials from our rubbish, rather than turn these materials into a ‘fuel’.

Incineration reduces waste to around 40% by weight, 25% by volume. It does not make waste disappear - much of the toxic ash still needs to be disposed of to hazardous landfill. Incineration does not generate renewable energy – burning plastic just substitutes one fossil fuel for another.

The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector

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Fighting for equality, sustainability, democracy, local community, self-reliance and cooperation is inherent to being Green. We want: fairness for all; to meet needs and provide plentiful opportunities now and in the long term; openness and accountability; strong and empowered local communities and economies; all people and sectors working together. The Green Party vision is of a strong, independent Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector making a vital contribution to socially and environmentally sustainable living and enhancing our wellbeing. Central and local government need to play a constructive, enabling role and develop and empower the sector.

VCSEs have grown and they play many different roles. This includes: provision of services to individuals, groups and to the environment, [though they should not be used to deliver public services on the cheap]; offering mutual provision of support and self-help by members to members; advocacy; education and research; and community business. They play a key part in the economic, social, cultural and environmental life of local communities and our society. Individuals and communities often come together to form organizations to carry out purposes that have not been adequately recognized by other institutions.

The sector competes against vastly better-resourced competitors often on an unequal playing field at present and yet risk taking and innovation is a key characteristic of many VCSEs. This puts them at the cutting edge of social, political, economic and environmental development in our society – though they should not be used as a pawn in the battle to roll back the frontiers of the state. The community and voluntary sector brings many benefits: building of civil society; strengthening our democracy; discussion of topical matters – and taking action on issues; contributing to the economy; helping people who have problems finding paid work transition into jobs; job creation; skills development; research and development; and linking communities.

In recent times Bristol’s Greens have welcomed the local government performance framework National Indicator 7 becoming a part of the Local Area Agreement - the voluntary sector needs the right kind of environment to thrive and this is a step in the right direction – but more is needed. Our policies commit us to: do away with the heavily centralised political system and empower local authorities and VCSE to help each other much more. We want to support and strengthen the community development and VCSEs support functions of Local Government based on principles of empowerment, participation and mutual respect. Greens support quality education and training programmes which increase sector capacity at all levels, both within and outside the formal education system.

Greens will provide sustainable funding of VCSEs and redesign the banking system with more emphasis on local communities and recirculating money throughout the local economy. Our intent is to: overcome problems with access to capital; see reinvestment of profits locally; support community activities and voluntary organizations; have local community banks administer a community development fund; provide investment funds for local enterprises engaged in ecologically sustainable businesses; make loans available to small business and community enterprises using innovative as well as traditional forms of security; have community ownership, including democratically elected, accountable shareholder directors; provide full retail and small-to-medium business banking services. Greens support the development of local currency and time banking schemes such as LETS, Time Banking, bartering and alternative currencies.

We will lay the basis for a cultural shift in favour of VCSEs through a charter for volunteers and carers outlining the statutory right to time off for education, public service and voluntary work. Greens would introduce a minimum income level beneath which no-one could fall, but upon which the vast majority of people could live - a Citizen’s Income - financially underpinning volunteering. We would ensure Government policy across all departments recognizes the contribution of volunteers, and foster a culture which promotes and supports volunteering as a key part of community life.

All elected Greens will keep up the pressure on statutory authorities to abide by Compact guidelines, drawing attention to those that do this well, pointing out those who do not. Recession is biting, EU and UK funding schemes are going/gone – how well are Bristol VCSEs coping with this? With VCSEs in Bristol relatively well-organised and well-represented they are perhaps doing better than many. But we are not out of the woods. We don’t yet have the culture needed to ensure that VCSEs can cope well in hard times and thrive in good times – that culture is what Greens are working for.

Greens want the divisive past few decades reversed so that there is no artificial separation between large and smaller VCSEs and no sacrifice of distinctiveness to compete for contracts. Good funding, effective capacity building, full cost recovery is what VCSEs need. Full and proper participation in decision making and proper use of the sector’s expertise in shaping communities and meeting needs is vital to the sustainable society Greens aim for.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

No more niches – we need sustainable innovation at scale (Jonathon Porritt)

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No more niches – we need sustainable innovation at scale (Jonathon Porritt)

Student grants not loans and tuition fees

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Copy of National Union of Students press release:
Tuesday 10 March 2010 – for immediate release

Glenn Vowles, Green Candidate for Bristol East has signed a pledge to voters ahead of the forthcoming general election that he will vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has launched the Vote for Students campaign to encourage candidates to pledge to protect student interests by opposing attempts to lift the cap on student top-up fees.

The Vote for Students funding pledge states:

"I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament, and will put pressure on the Government to introduce a fairer alternative."

Glenn Vowles said:

"I certainly oppose a rise in student fees, but Green Party policy goes much further. Our position on tuition fees and student loans means that under Green Party policy, students will not have to pay tuition fees. The Green Party supports grants not loans, providing a basic income sufficient for needs while in full time education. "

NUS President Wes Streeting said:

"The vast majority of the general public is against higher fees, and although this review has been set up to report after the general election, voters deserve to know where their MP stands on this highly emotive issue.

"I am delighted that the Green's Glenn Vowles is standing up for students and their families in Bristol East by signing up to this pledge. He has demonstrated his determination to give every young person in Bristol East a fair chance to go to university."

A recent YouGov poll commissioned by NUS revealed that 88% of the public does not think the review should even consider increasing fees, while a majority believes that it should look at alternatives. Last year, research by Opinionpanel (
showed that a political party’s position on tuition fees would affect how 79% of students would vote in a general election.

* Media enquiries for Glenn Vowles: Tel 0117 9717023
* NUS Press Office: 020 7380 6604 / 07866 695 010
* For more on the Vote for Students campaign:
* For more on NUS’ approach to student funding:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The needs of children

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Have just signed the NSPCC 'I Stand for Children' pledge after receiving an email (edited and adapted extract in bold italics below) from a Bristol East voter. Children and childhood are very important and central to green thinking and action, given that we are about creating a new ethics - that of securing a decent life for future generations.

We are neglecting children's emotional and social needs and so we see significant depression, behavioural and developmental problems in children. We also see significant abuse of children. They need real protection, real food, real play, real experience of the world first hand, real and quality interaction with the adults in their lives - and time.

The NSPCC want the protection of children to be a top priority for the next elected Parliament - to ensure vital child protection reforms committed to are delivered, and essential funding and resources are secured.
The NSPCC want the next elected Parliament to:

*ensure that vital child protection reforms are fully implemented and resourced, following the death of Baby Peter and other child deaths since

*continue to fund helpline services for children, and for adults concerned about a child’s safety or welfare

*tackle domestic violence from a child’s point of view

*make the internet safer for children

*strengthen the role of the Children’s Commissioner in England

*provide resources for therapeutic services for children who have experienced abuse

The NSPCC has created a campaign website –

Tributes as French Resistance Agent Rose dies at 105 | Bristol News

Tributes as French Resistance Agent Rose dies at 105 Bristol News

What a woman. What a life. We have a lot to do to live up to the example set by this generation!!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Significant stats (5): 200 yrs before there is an equal number of women in Parliament, at the current rate

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Read this stat in excellent coverage of International Women's Day in The Independent on Sunday. Some more: just 19.5% of MPs are women; 3 million women in the UK suffer rape, domestic violence, trafficking, forced marriage or other violence; 90% of local authorities do not have a rape crisis centre; of 109 High Court judges only 15 are women; womens average net income per week is £180 compared to £231 for men; 20% of people belive it is sometimes acceptable for a man to hit or slap his girlfriend; 36% believe a woman is partly responsible for being raped if she is drunk; 83% of experts cited in news stories are men; 19% is the proportion of women in news stories portrayed as victims, compared to 10% for men...

The front page of the paper had many powerful quotes from a range of women. Views expressed include: recent generations lack of achievement; momentum of women's movement has stalled; women suffering more from cuts in public services; equal pay not achieved; sexism still common; no female editors of broadsheet newspapers; female director general of the BBC needed; one woman a day dies in childbirth; girls suffer circumcision and prostitution; women left for hours on their own in labour...

Great to see Green Party leader Caroline Lucas on The Independents list of 100 women who changed the world (though I'm sure Caroline would say that she has a lot more to do yet!!). I was especially pleased to see scientists Rosalind Franklin, who played a key role in idenifying the structure of DNA, Jane Goodall, who has done vital work on chimpanzees and Helen Sharman, the first Briton to enter space(who I met when she visited the science dept at a school where I was working) listed, but did not see scientist Rachel Carson author of Silent Spring, who should be there. Caroline said this on her blog about the Greens policies:

Today is...a fitting day for the Green Party to launch its manifesto for women.

We support the introduction of quotas to ensure that boards of major companies are at least 40% female, based on the model already successfully implemented in Norway, and currently being considered in France.

We would insist that all large and medium-size companies carry out equal pay audits and redress inequalities uncovered; and that the law be changed to make joint suits for equal pay cases simpler.

We also propose better provisions for maternity and paternity leave, with a focus on paid paternity, to ensure that responsibilities are shared more equally in a way that benefits both parents.

I am proud to be a part of the only political party in Britain that is explicitly committed to equality for everyone, and as part of International Women's Week, I'm delighted to be appearing on Question Time this Thursday - in front of an all-woman audience.

More here:

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Why vote Green? Part Six...

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Our commitment to road traffic reduction is high. Traffic congestion causes multiple problems, especially in cities like Bristol – and yet the big parties have neglected to give transport the attention and investment it has long needed.

Greens will plan to enable people to access local jobs and facilities close to where they live and promote walking and cycling. We want an integrated, sustainable transport authority serving Greater Bristol (as 6 of the 7 most economically powerful cities in England outside of London have*), convenient, speedy ticketing that can be used on both buses, trains and ferries, real-time information as the norm throughout the system and a transport hub where it makes good sense – right next to Temple Meads railway station on ‘Plot 6’ (pictured).

We will invest in convenient, affordable, accessible and expanded public transport, diverting money away from major road building and subsidies for expanded air travel: doubling the size of the bus fleet, investing £3 billion to buy 30,000 new buses, creating 70,000 jobs; subsidising bus fares and getting new services operational with £2 billion; bringing the railways back into public ownership, spending £2 billion on new track and rolling stock and urban tram schemes, creating 20,000 jobs; through a £3 billion subsidy reducing UK rail fares by one third, bringing them in line with the European average. At EU level Green MEPs are working for the introduction of a core UK rail freight network that includes the Channel Tunnel to connect with European networks.

More detail from: the Green New Deal and this excellent post from Tony Dyer on his Aurea Mediocritas blog.

This post is the sixth of a series giving positive reasons to vote Green in the run up to this years local elections and general election.

Friday, March 05, 2010

People for trees, trees for people

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Copy of email just sent to the Woodland Trust Government Affairs team with regard to their Candidates' Commitment: As a candidate at the general election I believe that creating new woods and planting trees is a priority if we are to tackle challenges such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, wildlife loss, improving public health – both physical and mental – and shaping places where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time.

I will promote the creation of new native woods and trees by:

1. Committing to working for the expansion of native woodland cover throughout the duration of the next Parliament.

2. Contacting my party leader and asking them to adopt the Woodland Trust’s manifesto as a basis for expanding, enhancing and protecting the natural environment.

3. Ensuring that native woods and trees are high on the agenda at the election by publicising my support for the Woodland Trust’s manifesto.

The Woodland Trust's website says,

The UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with only 11.8 per cent woodland cover compared to the European average of 44 per cent. Sadly, however, levels of woodland creation with broadleaved trees in England have halved in the last six years and much of our woodland heritage remains vulnerable to development pressures and degradation.

Creating new native woods and planting trees is not a luxury but a vital action which will improve people’s quality of life.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pioneering scheme in Bristol to make peace with your neighbours | Bristol News

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Pioneering scheme in Bristol to make peace with your neighbours Bristol News

Great to see that this is up and running - and working - in Knowle West. I've blogged about this a few times*, as its a longstanding Green policy, a while back. I was concerned at the time that money might not be made available for this restorative justice work.


Save the Children: Poverty Kills Childhood campaign

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No-one should be living in severe poverty in a rich country like the UK. Wealth should be fairly shared and rising inequality tackled. The needs of current and future generations should be met - so that all have decent options. The UK needs to develop in ways that help to reduce and then eliminate poverty around the globe. As a powerful and wealthy country the UK has a very significant role to play in both giving more and in taking less from poor countries.

Received recently from Steve Haines, Director of Campaigns and Advocacy, Save the Children UK: Dear Glenn, Save the Children UK would like to thank you for supporting our Poverty Kills Childhood campaign in the run up to the General Election. We look forward to your continued support in the first 100 days of the next Parliament. For further information on the campaign please visit our website or contact us at

I'd just like here to highlight what Save the Children are asking parliamentary candidates - and in fact everyone else - to sign up to. This is from their website:

Parents across the world worry their children won’t succeed, or even survive, because poverty is killing childhood.

Strong action — not just by politicians but by every member of society — is needed now to prevent the loss of a generation.

This manifesto sets out the key actions the British government must take for the coming parliament if it is to meet its obligations to children living in poverty at home and abroad.

We’re calling on all UK parties to make five key commitments:

Tackle severe child poverty in the UK

Break the link in the UK between poverty and educational achievement

Introduce a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions to benefit the poorest children at home and abroad

Honour existing aid commitments

Act as a global leader on child hunger

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Gingerbread: lets lose the labels campaign

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Was very happy to sign up to the Gingerbread campaign against stereotyping single parents after receiving the email below today from, perhaps a little unusually, a certain Roger Berry MP. I will certainly fight such prejudices, along with any similar or related ones - this is essential work if we are to build the fair society and fair future that the Green Party wants.

Dear Mr Vowles,

I’m writing to ask you to support Gingerbread’s campaign to challenge the stereotyping and stigma that single parents face.

Eighty-three per cent of single parents surveyed by Gingerbread said the media portrays them in a negative light. Polling confirms that the wider public overestimates how many single parents are teenage, never married and not in work. Too often they are depicted as scroungers or bad parents responsible for ‘broken’ families.

There is likely to be intense debate around family policy in the run up to the election. Please help make sure this focuses on the facts, not on the stereotypes.

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have already signed the Gingerbread pledge below:

I promise to challenge prejudice against single parent families and support Gingerbread’s campaign to lose the labels.

Please email to pledge your support for the campaign. And I’d appreciate a reply to this email too, if possible, to let me know you’ve signed. Many thanks.

Gingerbread will be publishing a list of signatories on their website, along with regular campaign updates: see

BBC News - Former Labour leader Michael Foot has died

1 comment:
BBC News - Former Labour leader Michael Foot has died

Great man of leftist ideas, excellent thinker and writer, inspirational and passionate speaker. A lovely man who stuck to his principles despite the dirty world of party politics and the media (some of whom treated him very unfairly indeed whilst he was Labour Leader).

Temple Meads transport hub vital for rail-use increase | Bristol24-7

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Temple Meads transport hub vital for rail-use increase Bristol24-7

Pete Goodwin, the Greens candidate for Stockwood, is doing great work on this vital Bristol transport issue. I've commented on this Bristol 24-7 story, giving the wider picture on Green investment plans, beginning...Given the transport problems of the city and the country (congestion, stress, delays, ill-health, both local and global pollution, additional costs…) we need to do what is best to establish an integrated, sustainable transport system – and a hub next to Temple Meads is a vital part of this. People can see it makes good sense and is a great investment with benefits – economic, social and environmental – stretching out to the long term....

See also:

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

SITA application for permit for Severnside waste incineration

Extract below from the Environment Agency website. 12 March is the deadline for receipt of comments on the permit application - so if you want to express your views get them in soon!

SITA UK Limited
Severnside Energy Recovery Centre, Land to the north of Seabank Power Station, Severn Road, Severnside, Bristol, Avon BS10 7SD

Advertisement of an application for an environmental permit under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007

Name of applicant: SITA UK Limited

Application number: EAEPRZP3937KLA001

Type of regulated facility: Disposal of waste by Incineration

Address of regulated facility: Severnside Energy Recovery Centre, Land to the north of Seabank Power Station, Severn Road (A403), Severnside, Bristol, Avon, BS10 7SD

The Environment Agency has received an application for an Environmental Permit under the Regulations from Sita UK Limited

The application contains a description of: the installation; the process, materials, and energy it will use and generate; the condition of its site; the source, nature and quantity of its foreseeable emissions and their potential impact on the environment; the proposed techniques for preventing, reducing, and monitoring its emissions and preventing and recovering waste.

This information is held in registers at the following locations:

South Gloucestershire Council,Council Offices, Castle Street, Thornbury,Bristol, BS35 1HF

Bristol City Council, The Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR

Environment Agency, Rivers House, East Quay, Bridgwater, TA6 4YS

You can inspect these registers free of charge during normal office hours (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday). You may obtain a copy of documents on the register. A charge may be made to cover the costs of copying.

The Environment Agency must decide whether to grant or refuse the application. If it grants the application, it must decide what conditions should be included in the permit.

Your chance to comment

Any comments should be made in writing by 12 March 2010 to
The Environment Agency, Permitting Support Centre, Environment Permit Team, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield S9 4WF.

This guidance explains what factors are relevant to our determination.

Please note that any comments we receive must normally be placed on the public register. If you do not want your representation to appear on the public register, you should make a request to this effect.

Monday, March 01, 2010

CTC Vote Bike Manifesto

1 comment:
We need, both in principle and in practice, to prioritise sustainable modes of transport, like cycling (and also walking) above motorised transport. We need to plan for strong local economies and communities and increase the available information, education and infrastructure for cycling and walking accordingly. I support doubling cycle use within ten years, and making cycling mainstream in the longer term. Received this today from Roger Geffen, CTC (the UK National Cyclists Organisation) Campaigns and Policy Director: Dear Glenn Vowles, Thank you for supporting CTC’s Vote Bike Manifesto.[summary below**]

Cycling is an exceptionally good value solution to so many of the challenges that we face today. We will be looking to the new government to set out a strong and well-funded action plan to deliver these benefits, and to help make cycling mainstream.

We hope we can count on your support for cycling in the new parliament, and will be pleased to contact you about membership of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group – supported by CTC and Britain’s other major cycling organisations – in the event of your election. I look forward to being in touch.

Cycling provides a low cost solution to many of the most pressing issues facing our country such as our health, the environment and the quality of life in our towns and cities.

- Strengthening the political and resource commitments made to cycling
- Improving the training and skills of planners and engineers in order to deliver quality cycle- friendly planning and design
- Tackling the risks faced by cyclists
- Enhancing provision for combining cycling with public transport
- Providing encouragement, incentives and opportunities to try out cycling
- Creating new and improved opportunities for recreational and off-road cycling

More detail on the CTC manifesto here.

Green Party policies on transport here.