Wednesday, 8 April 2020

PRESS RELEASE - Exercise classes for older people rescued from Corona crisis

Pilates Instructor Lynne Ellis
Pilates Instructor Lynne Ellis of Almondbury recently extended her classes to include those who need a more gentle form of exercise by converting her sessions to be done on a chair. This was particularly popular with older people wanting to keep active and healthy. These classes ran in Community Halls and were sponsored by Kirklees Council as part of their ‘Early Intervention and Prevention Strategy’ to help those with less mobility keep in shape.  The sessions had become really popular bringing the community together, tackling loneliness and improving health. 
Then the Coronaviris stopped all group activity!
Newsome Green Councillor Andrew Cooper contacted Lynne and suggested using ZOOM, a video conferencing app, to keep her pilates sessions going virtually.  The classes are now being done virtually and keeping people in touch with each other in these times of social isolation. 
Lynne said,
 “I’ve never been the best at social media and technology but Andrew introduced me to ZOOM and talked me through the set up and how it works, it was very easy which has been confirmed by how many of my pilates people have joined me, including those over 70.  Many thanks to Andrew. With his help and advice I have been able to continue my classes and keep me sane as I am by nature a sociable person.  This media enables everyone to chat before the session starts and enables me to correct body positions whilst the class is in progress… I love it!”
Councillor Cooper said,
“I’m so pleased Lynne’s classes are going so well and that she is able to help so many people stay active when they even are confined to their homes for much of the day. The exercise will not just make people physically healthier but mentally stronger as well by having valuable social time with friends, sharing a fun experience. Who knows I might give it a try!”
Lynne runs six sessions a week, two for those who are looking for a more gentle exercise, exercising from a chair, two for Beginners to Pilates who may wish to learn or who just want to keep toned and in shape, and 2 sessions of the more Advanced/Intermediate sessions for those who really want to work their bodies and have done pilates/exercise in the past. Membership is just £20 a calendar month and gives access to 2 sessions per week.
For more information email Lynne at

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Greens welcome 3 months rent holiday for Kirklees Business tenants

Kirklees Council has announced it will be giving a 3 month rent hoilday to its commercial tenants.

Councillor Andrew Cooper said

"I welcome the rent deferral for Kirklees business tenants for 3 months. I originally proposed it to ensure small Independent businesses like retailers, pubs, cafe's and restaurants survive this crisis intact. We will need them to bring life back to our town centres and I am urging other Councils around the country to follow Kirklees lead".

"There is now a challenge to commercial landlords of our  Huddersfield town centre businesses. If Councils can do what is right to protect the long term interests of our local economy so should you. A 3 month rent holiday for your tenants now could well ensure they are your tenants in the future."

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Corona Virus Crisis - "What do you need?" ask Greens

Kirklees has provided £30k for each of the Council's 23 Wards to help communities deal with issues related to the current Corona Virus Crisis.

Kirklees Councillors were informed by email on Tuesday that the funding would be added to the Ward Budgets that they control for activity in the wards they represent.

Kirklees Green Party Leader and Newsome Ward Councillor Andrew Cooper said,

"This funding provided by the Council at this most difficult of time is very welcome. What Newsome Councillors want to do is get people to give us their ideas. The sort of ideas we are looking for are things that help morale in the community, provide support to vulnerable people in the community and ensure that we come out of the crisis with local businesses intact. The funding is not limitless but I'm keen to harness the power of the community to help us through this public health emergency. I and my Newsome Ward colleagues have been impressed by the willingness of people to help their neighbours in this most unprecedented of circumstances. These are the people who can see the needs that may not be being met and the things that may make life a little better. "

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Strange days indeed.

Covid 19
Where to begin. We are in uncharted territory. A country effectively in lockdown, no pubs, bars, cafes or restaurants open, the state supporting millions who were only a few days ago were in employment now out of work due to Covid 19, the Corona Virus. People living in fear of their lives, social contact prohibited and the deepest religious and social rituals no longer happening until who knows when. Some people are scared and understandably.

The territory is uncharted but not unimagined. Films and TV programmes have placed the social fabric under stress in any number of dystopian and post apocalyptic dramas. The BBC's Survivors about a pandemic in the 70s with devastating effects killing millions and spread by global air travel springs to mind. Whether its zombies, triffids or a pandemic the story is all about how society and individuals respond when placed under strain. Already we have seen the best and worst of human nature. People volunteering to help the vulnerable in their droves, council services reshaping themselves to deal with the current crisis and Government giving unprecedented support to seek to ensure we return to some sort of normality. We have to hope they succeed. And then there's the panic buying. I guess a lot of us wish we had shares in toilet roll manufacturers as toilet rolls appear to be like gold dust at present. The panic buying is because there is panic. Many people have not adjusted to the new 'normal'. because it isn't normal and we're only at the beginning.

What is the role of local politicians in these times? More than ever we have to be visible, available and reassuring. Life goes on. There are potholes to fix, drains to be unblocked, traffic calming to be installed. As Newsome Ward Councillors we will be doing a street by street survey over the next few weeks. Most of the Council and community meetings we were scheduled to attend have been cancelled. We are not banned from walking the streets so why not. So if you're a Newsome Ward resident and you see one of us then please say "hello" (from 2 metres apart) and let us know your story. We'll get through this.

Rather than the chilling opening sequence from 1975 BBC's Survivors here's Curtis Mayfield's 'Move on up' It's a shot of optimism that's helped lift me when I needed it so maybe it will help you too. Enjoy

Friday, 31 January 2020

Kirklees Green Group - 2020/21 Kirklees Council Budget proposals

Last year Kirklees declared a climate emergency in response to the clear message from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have a limited time to reduce carbon emissions to levels consistent with a viable environment for human civilisation. This amendment aims to take Kirklees on to the next stage of our journey to become a Net Zero Carbon Local Authority in line with the 2038 target set for us through our membership of the Leeds City Region. We also need to ensure that regional funding is not used to provide tacit support to Leeds Bradford Airport expansion plans that threaten the viability of our emission reduction targets.

Kirklees New Build Passivhaus support fund

 Current informed estimates suggest a 5%  - 7% uplift in the capital cost for buildings built to Passivhaus standards when part of a consistent policy. This fund would ensure that all projects commenced on Kirklees owned land were properly resourced to achieve that higher energy efficiency standard, be they lead by the Council or part of a partnership arrangement using council owned land.

Kirklees Green New Deal Demonstrator

Following the Kirklees Warm Zone programme the next significant energy efficiency goal would be to carry out significant work on hard to treat properties particularly those with cavities that can only be filled using polyurethane foam. There is also a need for a room in the roof insulation project for homes that cannot receive mineral fibre wool insulation due to attic rooms. The aim would be to provide free insulation to 4000 properties as a showcase to other local authorities and national government. Within this project we would also expect 25% of the funding to be allocated to properties in fuel poverty and that they benefit from a whole house approach aimed at achieving the ‘Enerphit’ standard.
This project will demonstrate to national government the benefits and practicalities of applying ‘HS2’ levels of funding to domestic energy efficiency to achieve our Paris Climate goals, address fuel poverty, create skilled jobs and regenerate local economies.

Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing Carbon Reduction Fund

Following years of energy saving initiatives this Fund will be used to carry out pathfinding work to demonstrate how we will drive down emissions still further to levels consistent with a 2030 zero carbon target. The aim will be to achieve as close to the Enerphit standard as is practical. We are also calling on Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing to transfer homes to a low cost green energy provider when they become void.

Community Climate Action projects – Place based working 

We propose that the next round of Place based working funding is to be allocated for community lead climate action projects. This could support a range of community lead projects e.g. tree planting, reducing the carbon impact of community owned buildings, flood alleviation, community transport initiatives.

Purchase Renewable Energy 

We are calling on Kirklees to ensure that the Council’s electricity is sourced from verifiably renewable sources.

Schools Climate Change Education Project

This project will provide grants to schools promoting projects that reduce their carbon emissions linked to an education package. It is anticipated that projects such as the installation of solar panels, energy saving measures and tree planting in school grounds

Join the Global Covenant of Mayors

The Global Covenant of Mayors is where local governments in alliance with partners accelerate ambitious, measurable climate and energy initiatives that lead to a low-emission and climate-resilient future. This will allow us to assess our progress with international partners and collaborate with our peers in Europe and beyond. This does not mean lots of air travel but is about learning from best practice and hopefully demonstrating our best practice on a bigger stage. Kirklees is not a leader in action to reduce carbon emissions yet. We can learn a lot from others.

Conversion to electric vehicles project

There is a large potential for conversion of petrol/diesel vehicles to electric at a fraction of the cost of a new vehicle. This proposal is to establish a pilot project to demonstrate the potential for this in the Kirklees District.

Support the establishment of the Kirklees Climate Commission – through funding the secretariat and supporting analysis and reporting

Sunday, 19 January 2020

The engines of death ride the sky

Memory is a strange thing. Why do some memories stay in your head and others go. I remember as a child reading 'The Trigan Empire' that was a comic strip featuring the history of a civilization on the planet Elektron. It was serialised in the now defunct 'Look and Learn' comics with brilliant illustrations and imaginative stories. These words from the comic popped into my head recently "the engines of death ride the sky". A bit of a search on Interweb and I found the actual quote on the actual page of that mammoth comic series.

So why did those words pop into my head?  I was at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Zero Emissions Transport Group last week. Consultants had brought us scenarios of how transport in the Leeds City Region could play its part in reaching our 2038 Zero Emissions target. They showed us all about 'modal shift', getting people out of cars and onto public transport, or into low emission vehicles, or bikes, or walking and how that might occur with different levels of policy commitment. They even mentioned our regional Leeds Bradford Airport and talked about the emissions being generated from all those planes BUT they only were obliged to measure domestic not international flights. 

This is a global issue and has been sort of, but not convincingly addressed in the 2016 International Civil Aviation Organization agreement. This is a largely voluntary agreement whereby the carbon emissions for flights are supposedly offset by tree planting. This is a case of the aviation industry regulating itself. The scheme doesn't start till 2021 and it is voluntary till 2027. It doesn't comply with the Paris Climate Agreement targets and even if it works as described it will take till 2050 to reduce emissions by 50%. While all this aviation emissions reduction is not really going on, airports like Leeds Bradford have big expansion plans and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are assisting them.

So yes, truly, the engines of death do ride the skies unimpeded and assisted by public money.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Kirklees Green Motion to Full Council on Proportional Representation in Local Elections

The General Election. Tories lack a majority of votes but get a majority of MPs
Motion submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 14 as to Proportional Representation in Local Elections

To consider the following Motion in the names of Councillors Cooper, Lee-Richards and Allison;

This Council notes that;

The electoral system used for local elections in England and Wales, First Past the Post (FPTP), is not a fair system, because it means that votes do not have equal weight and many votes are wasted. This leads to voter apathy and a feeling of disconnection from local democracy. Certain parties are over-represented, the most extreme example in May 2019 being Havant, where the Conservative Party
took all of the seats up for election on Havant Council with just 43.9% of the vote.

The alternative to FPTP is a system of proportional representation (PR), where votes cast for parties translates more or less directly into seats won. There are many variants of PR. The Single Transferable Vote system (STV) variant of PR is already in use for local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland. With this system, voters rank candidates and those who receive the most backing
(including second and subsequent choices) are elected to serve in multi-member wards.

Kirklees Council (in common with most other Metropolitan councils) already has multi-member wards and thus the transfer to a similar system would be easier than if the wards were single-member.
The introduction of PR for local elections in Scotland has led to an increase in turnout, which was 47% at the last elections, held in 2017. In contrast turnout in Kirklees in 2019 was 33%.

A move to a system of PR for local elections would necessitate moving to all-out elections every four years, rather than the current one-third system. This would benefit the council and Kirklees residents too, since it would mean more time for decision-making.

This Council believes that a move to the use of proportional representation for local elections would boost turn-out, make the council more representative of the political make-up of its residents,
and improve the quality of its decision-making, thereby benefiting all Kirklees residents.

This Council resolves to;

- write to the Minister responsible for Housing, Communities and Local Government requesting that Kirklees be allowed to pilot a system of Proportional Representation on the Scottish model at the earliest possible election
- signal our interest to be a pilot area for Proportional Representation to the Electoral Commission
- work through the Local Government Association to promote Proportional Representation more widely in English and Welsh Local Authorities.