Thursday, 28 April 2011

Greenbelt letters

Also available in pork!
Following the Lib Dem Manifesto Launch I wrote to the Examiner pointing to the contradiction between Coalition Policy on development and the professed desire of Lib Dems and Conservatives to want to protect the Green belt. Here's the trail of letters to date with a response from Conservative Councillor Christine Smith who seeks to foam at the mouth at the mention of the Green Party or me in particular.

Green view of Lib Dems - Examiner - 26/4/11

I SEE the Lib Dems’ claim to aim to protect the green belt in their manifesto.

This at odds with Lib Dem and Conservative Policy in government where brownfield quotas for building land are being abolished, putting more pressure on the green belt.

They also claim to want to protect services for the vulnerable, having voted with the Conservatives for huge cuts to these services in Kirklees.

People are not stupid and the Lib Dems and Conservatives should not only be careful in their public statements, but should also aim to be credible in their stated policies and not try to mislead people. Otherwise the view many people have of them following the tuition fees fiasco will be reinforced and politics as a whole will be further devalued in the minds of the general public.

Clr Andrew Cooper

Leader, Green Party Kirklees Council

We protect green belt - Examiner - 27/4 /11 

I SEE that Clr Andrew Cooper is once again castigating the Lib Dems and Conservatives over green belt policies (Examiner Mailbag, Tuesday April 26).

One of the most effective ways of protecting the green belt is by sitting on Huddersfield Planning Committee or the Heavy Woollen Planning Sub-Committee where decisions about green belt and brownfield sites are made. Yet no Green Party councillor will sit on any planning committee.

So, when Clr Cooper talks about responsibilities, policies and green belt, he needs to look to his own party first, particularly here in Kirklees.

Perhaps the electorate, whom he purports to represent, should start to ask questions as to why the Greens will not sit on any planning committees where decisions concerning green belt are made.

Clr Christine Smith

Chair of Planning and Highways Committee, Kirklees Council

And my response...............

Councillor Christine Smith , Conservative , criticises the Green Party for not having a Councillor on Planning Committee. As she well knows despite not being a member of Planning Committee I have been a regular attender of it, referring applications for decision and representing views of constituents. I was the only Councillor who was not a member of Planning Committee to make representations regarding the Tesco’s Development and the proposed replacement Hotel on Castle Hill. The real scandal here is that the larger parties rarely send anyone to Planning Committee to represent the views of constituents. As Cllr Christine Smith also knows being a member of Planning Committee restricts the ability of its members to represent local people effectively as they are bound by planning protocols. Ironically you can be a much more effective at protecting your local green spaces by not being a member of the Planning Committee and she knows this as someone who has voted for development on Lindley Moor.

I do notice however that in her criticism of me and the Green Party she does not contradict my view, and the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England’s view, that the latest Coalition Planning Policy statement made during the budget is a significant threat to our green belt and greenfield sites. I would be really interested in her role as Chair of the Planning Committee how she responds to CPRE’s and my concerns.

Councillor Andrew Cooper

Green Party Leader – Kirklees Council

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Green Party Local Election Broadcast

A good straightforward message from Caroline Lucas who is a real asset to the Green Party.

Going through the literature from the larger parties I have been struck by the dodgy graphs, the photographs implying local action when there is none, partial information to support an assertion they know is wrong, half truths and the downright lies. There is a lack of standards by political parties in their own election campaigns that would not be tolerated for the advertising of a product to purchase. When confronted by this sort of thing politicians from these parties often just shrug and say' that's politics' as if it were an answer or an excuse. Lib Dems are often the worst and most shameless offenders which I always found ironical given they used to portray an image of being above that sort of thing and agianst 'yah boo' politics. Rant over for the time being.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

On the Gogglebox

I'm on the gogglebox tomorrow for the Yorkshire and Humber edition of the Politics Show at 2.30pm-ish.

It was cold, the BBC were late and it was my sons 13th birthday bash but TV coverage is important stuff. Here's the link for a sneak preview. I'll be out on the doorstep so will probably miss it.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Tories up to no good in Kirkburton

Election time is here again and so Kirkburton Conservatives have produced a leaflet. You can tell its election time because it is full of half truths and untruths in pursuit of votes.
They refer to a motion on the siting of wind turbines they put to the Council in January where they state that my colleagues Councillors Derek Hardcastle and Julie Stewart-Turner abstained on the motion.They did in fact vote for the motion. They correctly state that my other colleague Councillor Graham Simpson voted against. In the Green Group we are comfortable with people having differing views unlike the other political groups. They then go on to make great play of my non attendance during their motion. The fact is that there was a large public meeting in Newsome that evening regarding the possibility of greenfield land below Castle Hill being allocated for building under the Local Development Framework and at least one local councillor needed to attend, which I did. They went on to imply that because I work for a company that promotes energy efficiency that I have some sort of interest in the promotion of wind turbines. The company I work for does not sell or install wind turbines and never has.
Also in their leaflet is a very dodgy montage of a wind turbine on Ben Booth Lane near Grange Moor with the implication that the Green Party would support incorrectly sited wind turbines. What the Conservatives fail to mention in their leaflet is that Derek Hardcastle represented the views of residents opposing the siting of the wind turbine when it came to the Planning Committee earlier in the year.
Another misleading statement is about Councillor Derek Hardcastle’s attendance at Neighbourhood Management meetings.  Leaving aside the fact that these are not actual meetings of the Council, Derek has asked if these can be moved to a time when he can attend but the 2 Conservative Councillors are quite happy with the times as they are. Much of the information from the police at these meetings is repeated, anyway, at Parish Council meetings of which Derek is a regular attender at, as he is for Area Committee, Licensing Panel, Standards Committee and Full Council meetings. There is no mention of Kirkburton Parish Council in the Conservative leaflet. Perhaps this is because of the 8 Conservative Parish Councillors elected 4 years ago only 2 remain, many of whom resigned or lost their seats due to non attendance. It is also noticeable that the Conservatives have been unable to find people to stand for them in all the Parish seats in the Kirkburton Ward unlike the Green Party.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Threat to greenfield sites from the Liberal Democrats

A bulldozer in Lib Dem yellow livery
 Here's a letter I sent to the Examiner in response to a Lib Dem Councillors letter praising the total hash the goverment seem to be making of planning policy at the moment. On the one hand offering 'localism' on the other making it easy for developers to build on green spaces:-

Lib Dem Councillor Tony Woodhead amazingly makes a virtue of the Coalition Governments relaxation of planning rules (Examiner Letters 4/4/11). He quotes proudly from the Government Website 'Councils must ensure that they are not imposing any unnecessary burdens in the way of development'.

Theses so called planning 'reforms' were announced recently as part of the budget statement. There is to be a presumption in favour of development, quotas for bulding on previously developed 'brownfield' land are to be abolished placing more pressure on greenfield and greenbelt sites. Councils are to be encouraged to auction off land in their ownership. I find it unbelievable that the Lib Dems and their Conservative masters regard this as good news. Are these the same Lib Dems and Conservatives who are saying how keen they are to protect the greenbelt in their rather misleading leaflets?

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England said of the Coalition Government planning statement,

"The planning measures present a potentially devastating threat to the countryside and are unlikely to boost long-term economic growth. To suggest, as successive Governments have done, that planning is a key impediment to growth is just wrong. The planning system exists to prevent unsustainable, unwanted and environmentally damaging development".

Councillor Woodhead and the Lib Dems/Conservatives cannot have their cake and eat it. They cannot claim to be in favour of protecting our local environment and be part of a government intent on selling it off for development.

Councillor Andrew Cooper

Green Party - Newsome Ward

Link to CPRE Website for referennce -

Friday, 1 April 2011

Threat to green field sites from Conservatives

There will be more people standing in front of bulldozers under the Coalition

The Green Party today highlighted new threats to our greenbelt and greenfield land announced in the Budget
We have significant threats to the green spaces around our villages due to housing targets being proposed by Kirklees Local Development Framework.  Kirklees Planners have made clear that Greenbelt and Greenfield land could be designated for development but recent announcements by the Government have made this situation much worse.
Kirklees Green Party Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper said,
“The targets that have been indicated by Kirklees Planning are already proving to be unachievable due to the downturn in the housing market. The market may pick up again but it is more helpful to developers and communities if there is certainty over a priority being given for development on previously developed brownfield land. The Government has now removed quotas for building on brownfield land."
The announcement in the budget from the Government has made matters much worse. In the recent budget the Conservatives announced a liberalisation of the Planning System to make it easier for developers to get around the planning process. CPRE – the Campaign to Protect Rural England said of the Conservatives Governments proposals, “The triple whammy of scrapping national brownfield targets, introducing a default yes to development, and pursuing half-baked proposals for land auctions could be devastating to treasured countryside”
 Neil Sinden CPRE’s Director of Policy said,
"The planning measures present a potentially devastating threat to the countryside and are unlikely to boost long-term economic growth. To suggest, as successive Governments have done, that planning is a key impediment to growth is just wrong.  It is disappointing that George Osborne is repeating the mistaken assertions made by Gordon Brown". 
“The planning system exists to prevent unsustainable, unwanted and environmentally damaging development.  Today’s Budget is likely to undermine its ability to do this.”

Councillor Andrew Cooper, " How can the Conservatives locally speak with any legitimacy about wanting to preserve green space from development when their government is doing everything it can to do the opposite of that."