Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Press Release - Greens select Andrew Cooper to contest Huddersfield Constituency

Huddersfield Greens have selected experienced Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper to contest the Huddersfield seat in the December General Election.

Andrew has been elected and re-elected to the Newsome Ward of Kirklees six times and  has notched up over 20 years service on the Council. He has taken up hundreds of local issues and concerns in his years as a Councillor and was responsible for making the Kirklees Warm Zone scheme free to all householders ensuring thousands of homes in Huddersfield were warmer and easier to heat. He now has a role providing advice and assistance to over 300 Green Party Councillors around the country.

At the national level Andrew is the Green Party’s Energy Spokesperson and has influenced the UN global climate talks by getting more recognition for the importance of the work of Local and Regional Authorities in addressing Climate Change.

On being selected Andrew said,

“Huddersfield is crying out for change. We need a fresh start for our town that provides a voice that is independent of the old parties that have failed us all for far too long. I’ve lived worked and represented people in Huddersfield for many years. It’s a town I love and it would be a huge honour to represent Huddersfield in Parliament, to be a voice that is dealing with peoples everyday problems but also looking at ways to address the climate crisis we all face.”

“I’m looking forward to the campaign. I want to see as many people as I possibly can over the coming weeks and to show people that there is a way we can aspire to a politics that is better than the one we have all endured for so long.”

Thursday, 17 October 2019

One does not simply 'Declare a Climate Emergency' - Kirklees Council Meeting Report 16/10/19

One does not simply declare a climate emergency. That became obvious, with stark clarity at last night's Kirklees Full Council meeting.

I had resubmitted a motion that the Green Group had submitted to the last Full Council. This motion called for West Yorkshire Combined Authority to withdraw £100 million of support for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. This motion despite my best efforts had fallen off the end of the agenda at the last meeting. This time in an effort to get it debated I withdrew a long standing Green motion that was nearer the beginning of the agenda and asked the Council to allow us to have the Leeds Bradford Airport motion heard in its place. This was rejected by Labour. When we got to near the end of the Council meeting there was a call from Labour, under Council rules to have their motion on Universal Credit voted on without debate. Quickly I asked for the same for our motion on Leeds Bradford Airport. We backed Labour to ensure their motion was put before the Council but then Labour, (with one or two honorable exceptions) voted against our motion being put. They really didn't want to discuss or vote on the motion at all.

Anticipating that this would happen, earlier in the meeting, I had submitted a question to the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Peter McBride which said,

"Will you be calling for West Yorkshire Combined Authority to withdraw the £100 million of support it is providing for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport in light of the Climate Emergency that we and they have declared?"

His simple, unadorned, one word answer was "No". I pushed him in my supplementary question for a more serious answer to my question, to which he answered saying that the funding was for some sort of Park and Ride scheme and he effectively said it was nothing to do with airport expansion. There was clearly an illogical disconnect in his mind between developing extra transport capacity to Leeds Bradford Airport and its expansion.

Councillor McBride was also in the hot seat that evening to talk about progress under his Cabinet Portfolio. He mentioned that the Council would be promoting high energy efficiency standards in new housing. I welcomed this but then highlighted the 'performance gap' issue where housing, built supposedly in accordance with current building regulations, were using twice as much energy in operation as expected. So much as he might believe he was promoting high efficiency buildings that might not actually be the case in practice. As in previous meetings I then suggested the Council adopt 'Passivhaus' standards for new buildings which have a quality assurance system which ensures that buildings actually perform as expected and use around 75% less energy than a building built to current Building Regulation standards. I and Councillor Marchington from the Lib Dems highlighted other Councils that had successfully applied Passivhaus standards in new housing including the Sterling Prize winning 100 house scheme in Norwich. Councillor McBride then repeated a number of misunderstandings and myths around Passivhaus costs and the supposed complexity of living in a Passivhaus. This pretty much indicated that this wasn't a route he was going to go down.

We had considered Passivhaus in detail in the Climate Emergency Working Group where a lot of these issues that Cllr McBride raised were dealt with through evidence provided by an  Observer on the Working Group, Chris Herring from the Passivhaus Trust . Hopefully some positive recommendations on the subject will appear in the Final Report. We will see.

What struck me is that even if the Final Report from the Climate Emergency Working Group is as radical and inspiring as I hope it is then it has the hurdle to overcome of the Labour Cabinet. After  last nights performance I doubt the Council will do anything other than a very mediocre response to the very real Climate Emergency we face. Unfortunately mediocre doesn't cut it.


Friday, 27 September 2019

Climate Emergency - Will Kirklees take it seriously?

Speaking at the Climate Strike demo in Huddersfield
At last weeks Kirklees Full Council meeting I attempted to submit a Green Party motion on the £100 million of regional funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority that is being used to support the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. The Combined Authority is Labour Controlled and Kirklees Labour Leader Shabir Pandor sits on the Authority. There is a clear conflict with the statements by Leaders supposedly supporting the calls for a Climate Emergency. In the meeting I requested that a Green Party motion that was the first motion on the agenda be substituted for our motion on Leeds Bradford Airport that was much later on the agenda. I made the point that we have declared a climate emergency and as such this was an important issue that we ought to debate and as we were simply substituting one Green motion for another there was no detriment. The Labour Party Councillors voted down this change in the agenda. They clearly did not want to debate it. In the end no motions were debated at all as Council was guillotined at 9.00pm.

This has been the month when millions of children and adults from around the world have been demonstrating to show the need for urgent action given our deteriorating climate. Only days ago Greta Thunberg in the United Nations has berated those politicians who have failed to act in the face of undeniable evidence from climate scientists saying that the need for action is urgently required.  Commendably Leeds City Region has stated how it aims to be carbon neutral by 2038 however a study by researchers at the University of Leeds has shown that Leeds City Region Carbon Targets could be blown completely by Leeds Bradford Airports expansion plans.

My reading matter this week.
In the next few weeks Kirklees Climate Emergency Working Party, of which I am a member, will be reporting on its recommendations for action by the Kirklees Labour Cabinet. We have heard a lot of evidence from Council officers and some input from relevant local businesses. I hope the recommendations from the Working Party will be challenging but realistic. Of course realistic can be radical, realistic can be cutting edge and realistic can be pioneering but it requires political will and being prepared to take risks. Mediocrity on climate action is not acceptable and is completely ineffective.  I have been concerned to hear leading Labour politicians talking of being ‘realistic’ when what they really mean is doing the bare minimum. I feel that the voices of the Labour Old Guard hold sway. Those who at worst don’t really understand the threat of climate change and at best don’t recognise the opportunities we have to make significant change. A change that could really show the way for other  Local Authorities across the country.  If we are led by dinosaurs we will simply go the way of the dinosaurs.

Hearing the Labour Cabinet Member with responsibility for Climate Change speak at the Climate Strike Demonstration in St Georges Square on Friday claiming, hopefully through ignorance, that we were the first Council in the country to declare a climate emergency was particularly concerning. We were actually about the hundredth in the UK. We weren’t even the first in Yorkshire. It’s not that it was Green Councillors who successfully proposed the first climate emergencies that concerns me ( in Bristol, Nationally and Scarborough, Regionally) but that Kirklees Leaders have such a lack of self awareness as a Council that we don’t  recognise that we are no longer one of the Leading Authorities on action on Climate Change. There’s no shame in that if we have positive plans to improve but not recognising reality is not a good place to start from.

There is an urgent need for politicians in Kirklees to ‘step up’ and provide a radical and inspiring plan showing how we can be local leaders on climate action and not simply take the easy path that is destined to achieve very little. I remain hopeful and I will do my best to advise Kirklees on what action it should take but I believe that perhaps the most useful thing would be to play Greta Thunberg’s speech to the United Nations before the next Kirklees Full Council meeting. That should help focus Councillors minds.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

An open letter regarding investment in Leeds Bradford Airport to members of the Leeds City Region Board from Green Party Councillors in the Region

An open letter regarding investment in Leeds Bradford Airport to members of the Leeds City Board from Green Party Councillors in the region

You will of course be aware that only a few weeks ago Leeds City Region and its constituent Councils declared a Climate Emergency in response to the stark warnings on the threat of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the fact that we have a limited amount of time to bring our emissions under control.

Proposals to invest public money in transport links to Leeds Bradford Airport are aimed at supporting its expansion plans which can only mean more flights and more carbon emissions making our chances of hitting our net zero carbon emissions target by 2038 remote if not impossible.

A study by academics at Leeds University has shown how support for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport is incompatible with our declaration of a climate emergency. This contradiction needs to be addressed.

As Green Party Councillors in the Leeds City Region we are calling on you to oppose the use of public funds to improve transport links to Leeds Bradford airport and for that funding to be reinvested in projects that will significantly reduce carbon emissions.

I am sure you will agree with us that declaring a climate emergency and then making no changes to those actions which are in conflict with that policy makes no sense.

Cllr Andrew Cooper - Kirklees Council
Cllr Karen Allison - Kirklees Council
Cllr Sue Lee-Richards - Kirklees Council

Cllr Ann Blackburn - Leeds City Council
Cllr Ann Forsaith - Leeds City Council
Cllr David Blackburn - Leeds City Council

Cllr Martin Love - Bradford City Council
Cllr Kevin Warnes - Bradford City Council

Cllr Andy Brown - Craven District Coumcil
Cllr David Noland : Craven District Council

Cllr Andy D'Agorne - York City Council
Cllr Denise Craghill - York City Council
Cllr Dave Taylor - York City Council
Cllr Rosie Baker - York City Council

Holiday house book review - The Ladybird Book - The Story of Plastics

There's been a bit of a fad in the last few years for spoof Ladybird books such as the Ladybird book of  'The Mother' 'The Student' etc so imagine my delight to find some on the bookshelves in the holiday house we stayed in in Scotland.

They were actually not spoof books but the real thing that with hindsight were  grimly amusing.

Given the impact of Blue Planet showing how plastics have polluted our oceans and caused umtold damage to our marine ecosystems The one that caught my eye was the Ladybird book of ' Plastics' published in 1972. I laughed out loud when I saw the page on 'before plastics and they had a picture of stone age cave dwellers, as if the whole of history was completely primitive before the age
of plastic.

The whole book is completely uncritical as you would expect from an educational book aimed at children just before the dawn of the Green Movement in the UK and probably written by the industry itself. What really did strike me was what innocent times those were. Our actions had no perceived consequences. We don't have that excuse anymore.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Climate Change? No problem let's move to Havering!

As sea levels rise, heatwaves ravage the populations of our cities and crop failures leave millions facing starvation what are we to do? We are told by Climate Scientists after years of peer reviewed science that climate change will affect us all but fortunately they are rather surprisingly wrong, in Havering at least!

Now I'm no climate change denier as a general rule but the good Councillors of the London Borough of Havering when presented with a motion at a Council meeting in July asking them to 'Declare a Climate Emergency' voted against it. It would be uncharitable to suggest they ignored the scientific evidence, that they valued their own opinions, or that of some bloke in a pub, more than that of climate scientists so all I can assume is that the London Borough of Havering has a very resilient micro climate or a protective shield which maintains a stable environment. That's not all of course their economy must also be independent of all the same influences that those of us unfortunates on the rest of the planet who are actually affected by a climate emergency have to put up with.

The London Borough of Havering is a truly blessed place. So when our homes and streets are inundated, when extreme weather conditions make large parts of the world uninhabitable then the London Borough of Havering is the place to go to. I am sure that was what the Councillors who opposed the Climate Emergency meant. They want Havering to be a beacon for climate refugees. Perhaps they could build a 'Statue of Climate Liberty' saying beneath it " Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses your yearning masses". What a good spirited bunch are the Councillors who opposed the Climate Emergency motion are and what were those Havering Councillors who proposed the motion thinking of?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Sounds from Number 76

I did a couple of compilations of varied music that I liked about 10 years or so ago. I found one of  the CDs yesterday so I thought I'd put them all in a blogpost. Harder to lose! Harder to scratch. This obviously comes under the "and also anything else I fancy talking about" part of my Blog description.
 It's pretty varied from 17th century choral music to the Dead Kennedy's but I think it hangs together OK. It finishes off with 'That's Entertainment' by The Jam. I've mentioned to a number of people that I'd like it played at my funeral. So if you happen to be there and they don't play it then please feel free to complain on my behalf.

Enjoy or not!