Wednesday, 27 August 2014

PRESS RELEASE - Greens and Independents call for an ‘All Party Administration’ on Kirklees Council for ‘the common good’

Green Party and Valley Independent Councillors have called for an ‘All Party Shared Administration’ for Kirklees Council to address the huge cuts facing local jobs and services. Green Party Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper said, "The loss of around £152million from Kirklees budgets each year by 2017 is the greatest threat to local services that the Council has ever faced. The impact on the services provided by the council cannot be overstressed, Roads that are already poor will get even worse, costs for adult social care will rise, funding for vulnerable children is uncertain, libraries and museums are threatened with closure. At a time when Kirklees is facing its greatest ever crisis it makes no sense to have a minority Labour Administration having the responsibility alone of trying to protect the services that people across the district rely on, need and value. It is all too easy for opposition parties to criticise from the sidelines with the comforting knowledge that they have no responsibility for any council decisions that are made, while knowing that if they were in charge they would be faced with exactly the same dilemmas. At times of real crisis political parties should put aside differences and work together on solutions that are built around consensus and the common good. There are no easy answers or silver bullets to address the problems that the Council is facing. That is why every Councillor, of which ever political party, has a duty to want to responsibility to get the best outcomes possible for local people. For these reasons we are calling for a shared All Party Administration of Kirklees Council. This proposal will not work if one Party decides it prefers the comfort of opposition and we would only consider being part of a Kirklees Cabinet if all Parties represented on Kirklees took part. I have today written to the other Party Group Leaders on Kirklees Council requesting a meeting to discuss our proposal ENDS

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Some thoughts on the House of Lords

Congratulations to Ex Kirklees Lib-Dem Leader Cllr Kath Pinnock on her elevation to the House of Lords. I'm sure she will make valuable contributions to political life there and be a working peer. I look forward to hearing her official title' Baroness Pinnock of Cleckeaton' maybe? The latest round of Lords appointments brought the  not unexpected controversey, a number of big donors to the Tory Party got their rewards by being appointed to 'The Lords'. For the Lib Dems this latest round of appointments takes their numbers over the 100 mark. The Green Party has 1 member in the House of Lords, 'Baroness Jones of Moulscomb' or Jenny to her freinds. Moulscomb is the name of the Council Estate in Brighton where she grew up and when she was 'signed up' for the Lords she wore a fake ermine gown for the ceremony so really proud of Jenny for sticking to her principles on that one.

Did I mention 'principles'? It is always interesting talking about 'principles' and the House of Lords. A few thoughts. Recently in the news we had the positive news that women could soon become Bishops in the Church of England as that institution comes kicking and screaming into the 20th Century just as we are well into the 21st. What I found bizarre was the lack of much mention that this progressive move would mean that these new women bishops would find themselves automatically appointed to the archaic unelected House of Lords. OK quick quiz question, 'Which 2 countries allow religious priests into their legislative bodies?' Ok you know one, it's the UK right! The other is another beloved well respected democracy, yes you guessed it, Iran! Is there any logic to having people in the House of Lords, who represent a body that as a central tenet believes in the supernatural? Well they have gone through an election process of sorts from within their membership unlike many Tory donors . I'm always happy when someone stands up to the many Government policies which I regard as regressive and that is often Bishops in the absence of many political defenders. It does however make me feel uncomfortable that these champions of the underprivileged seem about as relevant as the wizards in Hogwarts Castle. They are generally benign but the fact that I am reluctant to see them go is more a reflection of the awful state of our backwards democracy more than any logical argument for their retention. in our legislature.

This brings us, (on the subject of principles and the House of Lords) to House of Lords reform, the Coalition Agreement and the Liberal Democrats. It was going to be great, well better anyway. We were going to have a wholly (or mainly) elected second chamber elected by proportional representation with 450 members. The draft bill when it went in front of Parliament in 2011 was by no means perfect. There were still appointments and 12 'Lords Spiritual'. Ultimately 91 Tory MPs defied their Government Whip and Labour didn't exactly cover themselves in glory by effectively allowing the status quo to continue.So it was dead in the water and so much for the Coalition Agreement. Future appointments to the House of Lords were to reflect Party shares of the votes at the 2010 General Election but definitely not the 2014 Euro Election where the Greens beat the Lib Dems. I'd like to see more Greens in the House of Lords influencing policy but I find it bizarre that the archaic House of Lords is allowed to continue in existence as well as still having elections by the 'first past the Past system. We are truly a backwards excuse for a 'democracy'. We may well be the mother of all democracies but our children have by far surpassed us and left us behind.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Festival time - Cambridge Folk to Huddlefest

I describe my blog as "about Kirklees Council and our activity to improve the local and global environment (and also anything that I fancy talking about)" Well this post comes under the category of 'anything I fancy talking about'. Just got back from Cambridge Folk Festival and it was their 50th Anniversary bash. Its probably around the 10th time or more our family have been there. It is the usual mix of good company, food, music and beer that make it a relaxing 4 days. It's not as big as Glastonbury but still thousands of people go and research has shown that it is better for the local economy than Mr Eavis's Glastonbury making  a cool £1.7million for the local economy each year for the Cambrige economy. So any lessons for Kirklees Council here on holding events to raise cash for the Council? Of course any Council can selflesssly support events for the community which may well come at a cost to the Council but have a wider benefit to the Local Economy. How much Councils could and should support such events when budgets for vital services are threatened by the Coalition Government cuts agenda is a reasonable question. In the 2013/14 Cambridge City Council budget book it quotes a net income from the Folk Festival of £237,000 from the paying punters like myself so a useful sum. To reduce the cost of the Festival the Council are looking at transferring the organisation of the Festival to a charity which they reckon will save the Council around £1 million over 5 years. Obviously there are real concerns about the transfer of jobs and pay and conditions issues for employees but the attraction for the Council in ensuring jobs remain, council budgets are healthier and the festival continues are very real.

Huddersfield does have a Festival coming up called Huddlefest in Greenhead Park on Saturday 20th September. This is not a Council event but is using council facilities, lets hope it is a success. Inspiral Carpets and Aswad are playing and here's a link

And here's 'The Melodic' a band I came across in one of the lesser stages at Cambridge in 'The Den'. They are really good.