Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lose a local election, continue to run the council

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Despite election losses the Lib Dems will continue to run Bristol (see link at end*). No surprise there, especially given the electoral arithmetic when we elect only a third of councillors at any one time. I doubt that any other party relishes taking on running the city in a time of cuts in any case (no doubt they are happy that their opponent will continue to take the blame).

I'm pleased to see the green spaces sell off halted subject to review, though I'm someone who opposes the principle of selling off green spaces whether the decision is taken by the council or more local Neighbourhood Partnerships. We need more not fewer green spaces for a wide variety of economic, health, social and environmental reasons.

I also welcome a prompt decision on the town green in Ashton Vale, though I have grave doubts about the basis on which some councillors will be deciding, given the fairly frequent and commonplace statements about wanting to see a football stadium on this greenbelt land. The matter will end up in the courts.

The new group set up to consider major transport issues like tram proposals, the bus rapid transit schemes and the Temple Meads transport interchange is a good idea. Should have been set up before now. I'm not yet clear on what its full role is and what power it will/can have to propose and enact changes though. This is a vital issue given the heavy traffic and poor public transport and integration is one key reason why Bristol is far from being a green city.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Carbon Trust maps emissions 'flow' of traded goods

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Very interesting map of carbon emissions....Also interested to see the reference to 'Britains borders' in the passage below*. Carbon emissions dont of course acknowledge national borders - the boundary/boundaries of carbon emissions systems is effectively fixed by human choices such as those who do the carbon accounting for the governments and various other organisations and the choices they make may not be particularly rational. Who is responsible for imported goods carbon emissions - those who demand and consume the goods or those who produce and supply them? Or should the emissions be split between them? How much does or should it matter?

...All of which is interesting for carbon geeks like me. But in terms of policy implications, it's the prediction of UK's future carbon footprint that raises the biggest flag. According to the Carbon Trust's estimates, the UK's total footprint, including imported goods, will fall only slightly by the mid 2020s, even if all of its major trading partners hit their stated carbon reduction targets. If major exporters such as China, India, Russia and Brazil achieve only half the expected level of decarbonisation, the UK's footprint will actually be higher in 2025 than it is today, despite substantial savings within Britain's own borders*.

As Guy Shrubsole of the Public Interest Research Centre put it: "Until government starts accounting for outsourced emissions officially, it's continuing to tell a convenient lie about the true scale of our carbon addiction."

Carbon Trust maps emissions 'flow' of traded goods Duncan Clark Environment

Lib Dem discussions with Labour, Tory AND Green groups on the council

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Interesting update on goings on at Bristol City Council in this* Post report, particularly on the town green and on green spaces. One correction: it says
'Her [Barbara Janke's] statement comes after discussions with the Labour and Tory groups after the Lib Dems lost their majority in this month's local elections.' when discussions were in fact held with Labour, Tory AND Green groups - we do exist y'know - and in larger numbers than before - though you'd rarely know it given the Post's coverage.


Very rich to make frequent use of the term green in her statement I thought. There is little evidence at all that Bristol has in general become a greener city over the decades - and plenty of evidence that we've become less green eg much larger total carbon footprint per person and per city, just like the UK on average, larger divsions of wealth between rich and poor... Plus of course conventional politics barely seems to recognise the economic and social dimensions of being green much of the time - it still needs to make the jump that green is far beyond trees, cuddly animals and recycling... (one of the reasons conventional politics has failed to really address deep rooted interconnected problems).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Soundwalk: free event, Arnos Vale, 28 May, 10am to 12 noon

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Noise and air quality expert Steve Crawshaw will be leading a soundwalk on 28th May, 10am to 12 noon at Arno's Vale. He hopes it will lead to greater protection for quiet areas in the city. It's also a good opportunity to experience Arno's Vale in a new way. More details on Steve's blog
Both images can be clicked on to see an enlarged, more readable version and for details of how to book a place at this free event lead by an expert.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Historic climate change deal...observations

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Interesting story to say the least, with much of this climate change deal being most welcome. However amongst the quotes in it is this one where a 'senior government figure' said: "This country is now the world leader in cutting carbon emissions. We are the only nation with legally binding commitments past 2020." Excuse me but the UK has not cut its carbon emissions yet AT ALL, not even after 25 yrs of being 'signed up' to sustainable development!! See here and here on how UK carbon emissions have risen by 12% instead of falling by 15 or 16% as politicians have wrongly and misleadingly asserted. Its easy to talk the talk and spin your 'successes' and that's how conventional politicians work -but only real practical actions that achieve good outcomes solve problems.

The deal also includes 'carbon capture and storage technology – which would extract carbon dioxide from coal and oil plants and pump it into underground chambers'. This is not an established technology and of course it allows the ongoing use of mass quantities of fossil fuels which cause climate change.

Historic climate change deal with legal powers agreed by Cabinet Environment The Observer

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reward for failure: no change in Cllr in charge of parks (?)

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Little change in roles proposed for various members of the Bristol Cabinet. Knowle Councillor Gary Hopkins for instance would remain in charge of waste and parks despite the fact the Bristol's people flatly reject the policy to flog off green spaces that he is in charge of, objecting to his dismissive manner - and despite the fact that under his leadership the council failed to reach the Lib Dem 'six to fix' 50% recycling rate by 2010 target. Why reward these failures?

BRISTOL'S Liberal Democrats have announced the roles councillors will take up in the cabinet – if the hung council agrees next week....Most of the proposed portfolios are the same as they have been for the last year...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Tough times for many - but the rich have got a lot richer

Large scale income inequality cuts quality of life and eats away at the fabric of society. Look at the evidence here . We should adopt income inequality as one of the key indicators of progress in our society and urgently enact measures to cut inequality (see ). It cannot be fair for instance that Bristol's first billionaire, businessman Peter Hargreaves (pictured) who now has a staggering personal fortune of £1,020 million, has seen his fortune soar by £450m in just 12 months when so many are losing their jobs, having their pay cut, having public services cut.

See this Post report on how A MIXTURE of Bristol's businessmen and celebrities made it onto this year's prestigious Sunday Times Rich List.

Also see this Post report on Peter Hargreaves

(If he has made an additional £450 million in 12 months and has a personal fortune of over £1 billion why does he say "When people ask me what have I done for this country, I tell them that I pay £10 million in taxes every year." ? Just a figure of speech? Or is this really the amount of tax he pays annually? £10 million is only 1% of his total reported financial wealth and only just over 2% of the £450 million he is reported to have seen his fortune soar by in the space of a single year!).

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Battered Lib Dems hold on

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Bristol's Lib Dems are not exactly spoilt for choice of leadership candidates are they, yet this person will be leading the City Council it seems! The Post lists contenders as Jon Rogers, whose seat in Ashley now looks very vulnerable given the huge Green win there, controversial green spaces flogger Gary Hopkins, who easily raises the hackles of many voters, and the less well known and less experienced Mark Wright. Maybe they'll stay with Barbara Janke (?) but her leadership of the city has not exactly been endorsed by the local election drubbing.

THE Liberal Democrats are expected to continue running Bristol City Council despite a bruising in the local elections. But holding on to power will come at a price – by being forced to make a U-turn on its green spaces strategy.

The Lib Dems lost overall control of the council after losing five seats but still remain the largest party.
They now have 33 seats while Labour have 21, the Tories remain at 14 and the Greens, two.

Talks will be held in private during the next week between party leaders to try to thrash out who will now run the council.

But any kind of coalition is extremely unlikely, not least because of the bitterness between the parties in Bristol.

Besides, Labour, the second biggest party see themselves in the ascendancy and will be looking to pick up many more seats at the next elections in two years' time.

The Greens, cock-a-hoop at winning Ashley, have ruled out any coalition deals, promising to vote on each issue on their individual merits...

Meanwhile, Lib Dem councillors will decide today whether Barbara Janke will continue as their leader.

She has fended off challenges to her leadership in the past but the group might decide after such a heavy defeat that it is time for a change at the top.

The frontrunners for the post include Jon Rogers who made a challenge last year and Gary Hopkins who has also made a stab for the top job in the past. Another contender is Mark Wright, who is relatively inexperienced but highly regarded...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Pioneering ultra light rail system for Bristol

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This is an excellent idea and the technology can be pretty green. Bristol should be going for this - as I've long said. To make the most of it we need a proper integration of the various transport modes though.

A PIONEERING tram system has been revealed which could provide a key to beating Bristol's daily traffic congestion.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Voting Green: my ten reasons

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1. Voting in another Labour, Lib Dem or Conservative person means supporting the status quo, politics as usual, big party domination or sometimes one party monopoly. Greens improve fairness, democracy and accountability, challenging the political status quo.

2. Fresh, innovative thinking and action is being initiated all over the country and further afield by hundreds of Greens elected as Members of the Westminster and European Parliaments, Members of the Scottish Parliament, London Assembly Members, and Councillors such as the large groups in Brighton and Norwich.

3. Greens are widely recognised for environmental leadership. Economic and social systems exist within the environment and are dependent upon it and Greens – being joined up thinkers – address all issues AND how they interrelate. This is essential if we are to solve problems, take opportunities, build equality and secure our wellbeing.

4. Greens work for strong local economies, keeping wealth circulating within communities, creating secure and stable jobs locally. This promotes wellbeing, fairness, self-reliance and sustainability, through greater local production, improved energy and food security. Greens believe small is beautiful and actively support small, locally owned businesses, local exchange and trading schemes and credit unions.

5. Local services and facilities of all kinds - health facilities, old folks homes, schools, libraries, swimming pools, buses and trains, pubs, corner shops, the local high street...should be maintained and enhanced not threatened and cut.

6. Green 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 enable people to access local jobs and facilities close to where they live and promote walking and cycling. They will invest in convenient, affordable, accessible and expanded public transport.

7. Greens believe health, wellbeing and equality should be the measure of progress in society. Public health issues are thus a high priority for Greens and above all favour the prevention of ill-health and the promotion of good health.

8. On environmental issues Greens are several decades ahead. They continue to lead the way: illustrating the interdependence of our economy and society with the environment.

9. Greens work to maximise efficiency, whether energy, water, transport use or other resources. It’s why they would insulate all homes free of charge - warming your homes, saving you money, efficiently and rapidly cutting fuel use and carbon emissions, creating thousands of local jobs.

10. The Green plan for rebuilding the economy - the Green New Deal – is a £45 billion investment to create 1 million jobs. It will begin to build a fair, sustainable economy and society by redesigning the financial system so that it serves the ‘real' economy and local communities.

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Very striking quote from an HSBC cleaner on the Living Wage website 'We share the same offcie but we live in different worlds'. Support the Living Wage concept and campaign!

YouTube - Stephen Fry on why you should vote YES on the 5th May

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The current voting system is not fit for purpose. AV gives voters more power. AV gives people real choice. The opportunity for change is now here - dont waste it. AV is an upgrade to our voting system. AV means your vote will always count. Ranking those candidates you are willing to vote for in order of preference is straightforward. MPs would have to get more people on their side and to do so would have to work harder and appeal broadly. MPs would then have to keep broad opinion and the national interest in mind - or they could lose broad voter support. AV is fairer.

YouTube - Stephen Fry on why you should vote YES on the 5th May

Discrediting Britain | Red Pepper

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Nick Dearden explains how the Export Credits Guarantee Department puts corporate profits above human rights

...Vince Cable is now in charge of the ECGD, answerable as it is to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. To date, little has been announced by way of reform.
The ECGD exists to support British exports by providing them with a sort of insurance. It normally supports large companies involved in big projects in the developing world. Over the past 10 years, support for fossil fuels, arms sales and aerospace has accounted for around 75 per cent of its work. Last year one single company, Airbus, received 89 per cent of ECGD support...

Discrediting Britain Red Pepper

Green Reading: End Of Allotments From The 'Greenest Govt Ever'

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Oh dear, yet another setback from the government that told us it would be the 'greenest ever'. Selling of allotments is a new low. The Government that:
plans to scrap green laws
forest sell off, u turn, then u turn again,
rejects sustainable transport plan,
failure of carbon plan,
redefine zero energy homes and many more.

The government puts up for sale 300,000 allotments. Plot-holders are up in arms over the plans to scrap historic right to council land. The century-old right of people to demand an allotment from their council may be abolished by the Government under plans to scale back red tape...

Green Reading: End Of Allotments From The 'Greenest Govt Ever'

11 reasons to vote Yes on Thursday | GreenFeed (beta2)

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11 reasons to vote Yes on Thursday GreenFeed (beta2)

The Daily (Maybe): Congratulations to Elizabeth May, Canada's first Green MP

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Elizabeth May, the leader of the Canadian Greens has won their first ever Parliamentary seat defeating a long-standing cabinet minister.
Having run an innovative campaign, including a series of attack ads against attack ads, and running a ruthlessly targeted strategy. May won an incredible 47% of the vote beating her opponent by a full 13%...

The Daily (Maybe): Congratulations to Elizabeth May, Canada's first Green MP

Monday, May 02, 2011

Who will voters in Knowle go for?

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The Lib Dem vote share in the polls has fallen. The Greens poll share has risen. Cuts, broken promises and the huge compromises of being in coalition with the Conservatives are turning people away from the Lib Dems. In my ward, Knowle, the Lib Dem vote is likely to reduce for these reasons in addition to local reasons and it will be very interesting to see where votes go. As the Evening Post has said, the extremely unpopular and controversial policy of selling off green spaces, including part of ‘The Jungle’ in Salcombe Rd, Knowle, could cost the Lib Dems votes. Hundreds signed a petition opposing the sell off and the man in charge of the sell off policy, Knowle Councillor Gary Hopkins, dismissed these concerns, controversially suggesting that local people were pressured into signing. Cllr Hopkins has seriously upset campaigners working to save their green spaces all over Bristol. As a long term and consistent campaigner for the protection of and increase in green spaces I hope people concerned about this issue will vote for me.

The Post also says that the regeneration of Knowle West is another big issue. A small slice of Knowle West (from Salcombe Rd to Newquay Rd) falls within the Knowle Ward, with the majority in Filwood Ward. This issue may be on the minds of some voters, though it has not become a matter of much party political debate. Political parties have not really involved themselves in the issue very much except where they are in direct decision making roles eg on the council Cabinet or in some cases being the local councillor. I have had some involvement in the issue and contributed in some detail, ideas on sustainably developing the area, where I spent my primary and secondary school days and where both my parents were also brought up. I’m a strong and consistent supporter of the detailed – and pretty green – regeneration plans put forward by the Knowle West Residents Planning Group which I was directly involved with for a period. The council should actively be helping this group bring their ideas to fruition but instead have often been more a part of the problem than the solution! I hope anyone who wants to see the principles of community-based regeneration and sustainable development truly put into practice will vote for me as a long term and ongoing advocate.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Green Councillors want to...

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Protect Public Services. Regulating banks and tax avoiders must come before cuts that will damage the lives of everyone.

Create more green jobs in Bristol. The Green New Deal creates jobs, and brings fuel and food security. Bristol, with its high tech expertise, can deliver.

Promote the Local Economy. Encourage local trading networks, making the city more self-reliant. Global mass-retailers are bad news for the local economy.

Support public transport, cycling and walking Public transport needs to be cheap, regular, direct and easy to use. Priorities: a Temple Meads hub, smart cards, real time information, plus a safe network of pedestrian and cycle routes, and a general 20mph speed limit.

Protect our Green spaces. Selling them would be unsustainable, regressive, unprofitable ( and generally stupid! )

Provide Homes: We can increase housing stock by redeveloping our 7000 unused buildings and houses in Bristol, and using brown field sites. But we need mechanisms to give local people priority.

A good local state school for every child. Young people should expect a high standard of education close to home and right for their talents. Academies and PFI rarely provide that.

Health. All our policies encourage good physical and mental health. But when things go wrong, we want accessible health centres providing a range of services. We want to work with a stronger (not a privatised) NHS, to support less able people and their carers in the community. We'll oppose any non-essential mass-medication (eg fluoridation of water).

Promote reuse and recycling of resources: Bristol needs alternatives to the 'throwaway' economy, promoting repair and reuse together with locally based plans for reducing waste, litter, and flytipping.

Save energy. We support insulation and energy saving as the best ways to reduce our CO2 output. Nuclear is not an option. Solar, tidal and wind are.

We need a progressive voice in Bristol politics. Just one more Green councillor will give us the influence of a party group on the council. Green councillors will work hard for what matters: a sustainable economy, decent public services and a good quality of life for all. And if you don't like us, our 'recall' system lets you get rid of us!