Wednesday, 24 December 2014

2014 Photo Review

Here's some snaps from myand Kirklees Greens 2014. The Euro Elections was a big feature of my year and though not elected we fought a good campaign and I enjoyed it.

The last picture of the Kirklees Green Cllrs Group together prior to the elections. Long standing Cllr Graham Simpson on the far right stood down in May

Our plan to put  solar panels on 2000 homes was  launched with the help of my friend Baroness Jenny Jones on a visit to Croftlands at Newsome.

Campaigning against Fracking in Scarborough with Cllr Dilys Cluer and local Greens

In York campaigning to keep the East Coast Rail Franchise in public ownership

Selfie at Green Party Spring Conference with Rupert Read and now MEP Molly Scott Cato.

250,000 Euro newspapers arrived for distribution across the Region we got all but a few through doors

In Doncaster on one of our many town centre campaigning days. Doncaster is home of Pete Kennedy who is standing against Ed Miliband. Pete would make great MP and can eat a sandwich with style!

Launching Karen Allison's campaign to be Newsome's next Green Cllr

Not a brilliant year for me and Karen on the allotment but some spuds in and garlic and onions

The BBC Politics Show graphics dept made me and the other Lead Candidates into diddlymen walking across Europe. Very amusing.

First hustings in Scraborough for the Federation of Small Businesses. One of many 'no shows' for UKIP who had a dismal attendance record at hustings meetings throughout the campaign

The Motorcycle Action Group hustings. Great fun and hosted by Lembit Opik no less!

Launching the Green Party's National Euro Campaign in London. The 3 people in the middle were elected as MEPs.

At our Regional Euro Launch being interviewed by Len Tingle. We were interrupted by very vocal cows.

Our 6 strong Euro Candidate Team worked well together throughout the campaign . A real pleasure working with them.

A great day in Sheffield towards the end of the campaign. A terrific local Party and great to see them up their Cllrs from 2 to 4 in the local elections.

A picture from the count. I wasn't in too bad a frame of mind having not been elected but it was nice that so many people were concerned.

Elections over and back to work. A clean up with Newsome residents in preparation for the Tour de France that passed through.

Thanks to Gideon Richards for our offiicial Newsome Cllrs pic at Stirley Farm

Wahey! Actually managed to grow something.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust launched their beef box scheme. Guess who was their first customer?

At the Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival with Julie and Karen

I attended a European Greens Energy Summit in Brussels where I pushed the need to address Fuel Poverty

Green Parish Cllr Cass Whittingham's Civic Sunday. She's the one in blue. Former Kirkburton Conservative Cllr Christine Smith is in white. I'm hiding at the back!

Official pic of the Green Party and Valley Independent Group on Kirklees Council. Carefully cropped pic as my shirt is hanging out.

Some Broad Bean Houmous I purchased at one of Growing Newsome's events. You can always guarantee to get a food there you can't get anywhere else.

The hardly elected Labour West Yorkshire Police Commissioner visited Kirkburton Parish Council to talk about his work and answer presubmitted questions only!  Grumpy Cllrs Cooper & Barraclough not in official picture.

Independent Cllr for Flockton Jimmy Paxton is given a bottle by Cass to mark 40 years as a Kirkburton Parish Councillor.

In London with Jean Lambert MEP for the launch of the report we commissioned  on pushing a Social Energy Target in he EU to address Fuel Poverty. Great work by National,Energy Action.

Labours Energy Spokesperson Caroline Flint MP came to Huddersfield  to explain how Labour were the 'Real Green Party' yeah right. It was a public meeting so a few Greenies provided an alternative view.

 Green Cllrs Robert Barraclough and Derek Hardcastle fixing an unadopted road in Kirkburton. Great can do approach.

Speaking at Full Council in November where I unsuccessfully proposed,an all party shared administration of Kirklees and laid into the Lib Dems over their Govts lamentable performance on climate change. They didn't like it much.

And a Merry Xmas from me and my fellow Parish and Kirklees colleague Cllr Robert Barraclough

Friday, 19 December 2014

Big Step forward for Passivhaus Development in Kirklees

The Denby Dale Passivhaus
This weeks Kirklees Cabinet meeting had an agenda item on disposals of some of the Council's land and property. This is becoming increasingly important to the council as a way of raising much needed cash in an increasingly cash strapped public sector. One site that came up was at Plane Street in Newsome. this was the former Stile Common Infants School site. The infants merged with Stile Common Junior School and became Hillside Primary a school built to the one of the highest environmental specifications in the UK.

At the meeting I asked that a condition be placed on the land that any properties built there would be to Passivhaus standards. Passivhaus homes have very low energy demand due to their high levels of insulation, airtightness and controlled ventilation. The average UK household fuel bill is £1236 per year. Passivhaus homes typically have energy bills much less than £100 per year. That is over a thousand pounds each year not going to energy companies and generally being spent in the local economy. For the Plane Street site, where 24 homes are indicated that would be over £30,000 every year with the value of that saving rising as energy prices rise, as they inevitably will. The Cabinet agreed subject to a report on the implications of this policy.

We are fortunate in Huddersfield to have local expertise and skills in passivhaus build and design. The Green Building Store have pioneered groundbreaking developments such as the Denby Dale Passivhaus and retrofit projects such as the CR8 Barn at Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts Stirley Farm in Newsome. I bumped into the owner of the Denby Dale Passivhaus on the train last week and when I asked him how much he was paying on his fuel bills he beamed and said 'I'm £20 up!' Very low energy demand plus his solar panels mean his home is a net contributor in energy terms. The Green Building Store are open with their expertise and have detailed case studies on their work.

The Passivhaus project at Plane Street would be a good thing to do in itself, but could become a blueprint for the specification Kirklees give for homes built on land it owns or as a condition for land it sells. It could become a key element of the long awaited Kirklees Local Plan.

The UK Government is lowering the ambition of so called 'Zero Carbon Homes' due to be introduced into Building Regulations in 2016. No longer will Zero Carbon Homes do 'what it says on the tin'. With this in mind it would be ironic indeed if Kirklees set higher environmental standards for building than the UK Government. My hope would be that our actions locally will have a national impact and make people ask why we can have better higher spec Passivhaus properties. Elsewhere in the UK the lowest common denominator of Building Regulations will be the norm, as approved by the far too influential Home Builders Federation.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

PRESS RELEASE - Kirklees Greens propose an end to public funds being used for Councillors Party Conference trips

Green Party Council Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper will propose a motion at the next Kirklees Full Council meeting calling for an end to public funds being used to support Councillors attending Party Conferences. The motion states:-

"This Council proposes to cease the practice of funding the travel accommodation and registration fees for Councillors of Kirklees attending Party Political Conferences."

Councillor Andrew Cooper said,

" When I speak to Councillors from other Local Authorities they are frankly amazed that Kirklees still funds the fees, accomodation and travel costs for politicians out of the public purse. At a time when services are being cut, staff are threatened with redundancy it beggars belief that we are allowing this practice to continue."

Green Party Councillors do not make use of these budgets but Councillors from other political parties represented on Kirklees Council do.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Last roll of the Highways funding dice?

Portland Place being surfaced

We have just got a number of small scale road and surface improvementsschemes delivered in the Newsome Ward.

  • The pitted garage site at Portland Place, near Trinity Street is finally repaired.

  • Access to a garages on Back Springwood Street, Springwood is now more easily accessible for vehicles following a drop of planings.

  • A path has been laid to the rear of Victoria Road following regular requests from residents

  • Back Newsome Road is now more easily accessible for bin wagons

  • The unadopted roads of Armitage Bridge Village should shortly be repaired and Dougie should be able to get around on his motorised scooter a bit easier.

What funding we are going to have to do these sort of valued improvements in future is anyones guess. So we were keen to get these particular schemes sorted this year.