Sunday, 28 August 2011

Green Hols

A photo from my walk along the Pembrokeshire coast
Just got back off my hols in Pembrokeshire, Wales. A good time was had by all and I got a couple of days  walking in adding another 22 miles to my tally on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. It was a 'green' holiday too with the cottage we rented being heated with a wood burning stove and hot water provided by solar thermal panels (very reminiscent of home really). We also got some time under canvas at the Cambridge Folk Festival where my wood gasification stove saw some action. One of the great things about the Folk Festival is that they insist on wooden cutlery rather than plastic at the takeaways. So collecting these and burning them in my stove helps cook our bacon sandwiches in the morning. Okay I know it should be a free range organic egg and mushroom sandwich on homemade wholemeal bread but then no ones perfect! One of the real advantages is you don't need to buy propane or butane canisters just the occasional AA battery for the fan. It also saw action at the AGC Conference where I camped in Norwich. Anyhow heres a vid demonstrating how wood gas stoves work followed by a vid by the band Katzenjammer from Norway who played at Cambridge this year.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Planning meetings should be webcast

The Lindley Moor Plaque. Could webcasting have saved the site from development?
Webcasting council meetings has been a very successful initiative that was originally proposed in a Green Party motion to Council a few years ago. The council certainly took its time implementing webcasting but we now regularly have hundreds of people logging on and seeing how their elected representatives are acting on their behalf. To a large extent they see it warts and all. Full Council and Cabinet meetings are webcast but not Planning Committee meetings. We have recently had some interesting and controversial items at Huddersfield Area Planning Committee such as the proposed developments of housing and a data centre at Lindley Moor. No doubt many people would have logged on to watch if it were possible.  I guess the Councils main concern is that webcasting may aid applicants who appeal to the Secretary of State against decisions that are made against them.  If those decisions were made on the basis of flawed logic, dodgy arguments and didn't show Councillors in a particularly good light then that is something the Council might not want displayed for all to see. My own view is that if we are to see standards rise  then transparency through webcasting of Planning meetings can only make things better. If meetings aren't webcast then the only option for many who want a 'live feed' will be to follow those 'tweeting' from the Council meeting and you would certainly lose a lot of the drama and nuances e.g. the rapturous applause from the public for Cllr Khan as he supported building on Lindley Moor at the last Planning Meeting. Okay that's not the reaction he got, but if meetings were webcast you'd know that for sure!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Wrath of Khan

The last Full Council meeting saw Kirklees Council Leader Mehboob Khan attack the new Green Party Administration in Brighton in a response to one of the many planted questions he'd arranged for the meeting. His answer was riddled with inaccuracies and lies but I guess everyone has there own leadership style. If you want to follow the actual point in the meeting in the webcast it begins about 35mins 30 seconds in (my reaction to Cllr Khan's comments can't quite be made out on the webcast fortunately!)

The crux of his case was that the Green Party in the run up to the local elections had promised that cuts were unnecessary and wouldn't happen if they were elected. So I drew the Kirklees Webcast to Brighton Green Party's attention and Councillor Jason Kicat had the following comment to make,

"Cllr Khan is speaking complete nonsense. We never pledged not to increase council tax and we have never pledged not to implement a legal budget. He should be asked to withdraw such rubbish.

We pledged to resist cuts to maximum extent legally possible. Furthermore the council has an ongoing value for money (efficiency) programme which actually over-delivered last year and is continuing this year."

Jason's blog provides more details of dubious Labour and Conservative attacks on the Green Party's position on Budget setting in Brighton.

You do wonder whether Cllr Khan's comments are part of a general fear about the Greens in the Labour Party. At their next Conference in Liverpool they even have a fringe meeting entitled "Green to Red: How can Labour stop the Greens spreading?"

Of course Cllr Khan's 'wrath' is because we didn't join with the other parties in voting for extensive cuts to adult social care (which they have now been forced to backtrack on for legal reasons). He doesn't seem to recognise that for some of us voting for cuts to services for the most vulnerable when bankers get off scot free is a matter of principle and conscience. He may regard voting on the basis of your beliefs as a luxury or an indulgence. I believe by opposing the cuts we provided a greater service to politics as a whole by ensuring that people in the most difficult circumstances felt supported and that they had a voice.

               Khan Plots his revenge. " He tasks me"

Friday, 12 August 2011

Vote Greening Kirklees. You know it makes sense!

Its come round to the Total Politics blog Awards again. If you fancy voting for Greening Kirklees I'd appreciate it. If you don't that's OK too. It fits into the 'Green' and 'Councillor' categories. Here's the link

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Walking the walk

My preferred mode of travel
New Lib Dem Cllr and former Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate James Blanchard tweeted the following a few weeks ago,

Permit Parking – Kirklees to propose £30 charge

Kirklees Councils proposal to charge households £30 for their parking permits is likely to adversely affect households in the Springwood, Highfields, Aspley  and parts of Primrose Hill. Previously households got their parking permits for free.  Over 8000 homes are expected to be asked to pay and it seems that smaller and lower income households could feel the impact.

£30 is not a lot of money for some people but if you are a pensioner on a fixed income or receive income support then it is effectively another tax on you at a time of rising food and fuel prices. For many people a parking permit is not even a guarantee that you can park on your own street as particularly in the Springwood area contractors and people working on behalf of Kirklees often take up these spaces. Though many low income and pensioner households may not have a car they value the permits to use for family and friends who come to visit them.

If Kirklees were to make concessions to low income households, as we would want them to do, this would reduce the amount of revenue the scheme would generate thereby making charging as a policy less viable. For that reason we want Kirklees to scrap the idea of introducing a charge for parking permits for all households.

Before any proposed charge is introduced all 8000 permit parking holders will have to be consulted by letter and allowed 21 days to respond. These responses will then have to be considered by Kirklees Cabinet.

The Liberal Democrats are also opposing permit parking charges currently in the Lindley area but were in favour of them during the budget process which set the wheels in motion on this proposal.