Saturday, 26 September 2015
Proposed Government cuts of 87% for the Feed In Tariff for solar photovoltaics threaten over 20000 UK jobs, make even our modest EU targets for renewable energy even more unattainable than they are at present.
In Kirklees where I am a Councillor the Green Party initiative that is already underway to install solar panels on 2000 council homes is now looking financially difficult to achieve. This scheme will reduce the energy bill of many low income households by the equivalent of 2 weeks rent each year. That money saved will go back into the local economy and not go towards bolster the profits of hard pressed companies.
Nationally the Solar Trade Association have published a Solar Independence Plan that will make the installation of Solar PV subsidy free by 2020. Compare that to nuclear power that will NEVER be subsidy free.
Write to your MP, sign on line petitions, get your Council to oppose these cuts and pass this motion. I move.
Thursday, 24 September 2015
Emergency Motion on Solar Photovoltaic Feed In Tariff cuts
Green Party Conference notes the Conservative Government proposals to cut the Feed In Tariff for Solar Photovoltaics by 87%. These cuts will mean a catastrophic reduction in the amount of solar panels being installed, leading to significant job losses and putting our modest 2020 EU Renewable Energy targets at risk.
Green Party Conference calls on the UK Government to enter talks with the Solar Industry to agree a plan that delivers a sustainable future for the solar industry (e.g. Solar Trade Association's Solar Independence Plan) and also puts us on a path towards 100% Renewable Energy in the UK
Emergency Motion on Zero Carbon Homes and Passivhaus Standards
Green Party Conference notes:
• The government cancelling the introduction of Zero Carbon Home Standards in 2016
• The negative impact this will have on householders at risk of fuel poverty in new housing
• The missed opportunity to reduce carbon emissions in new developments
• The loss of income to the local economy as a result of these lower energy efficiency standards, as householders’ income is spent paying energy bills rather than in local shops and on local services
Green Party Conference believes:
• That under the principle of ‘localism’ councils can determine their own standards on land that they own if those standards comply with UK Building Regulations
• That the internationally recognised ‘Passivhaus Standard’ offers an alternative to the UK’s diminished energy efficiency ambitions for new-build housing
• That the Passivhaus standard complies with UK Building Regulations and can deliver heating bills of less than £100/year for the average three bedroom terrace
Green Party Conference agrees:
• To call on all Local Parties to campaign to specify Passivhaus Standards on all buildings on Council-owned land and as a condition of sale on any council land
Tuesday, 22 September 2015
|The old Huddersfield Sports Centre- not a Refugee Reception Centre|
My better half came up with the great idea of getting Huddersfield Sports Centre out of mothballs to make it into a reception centre for arriving refugees. Large halls, showers, secure, it seemed a good idea. Next let's look at what accommodation we could bring into use to address medium term needs. I was thinking of conversions of empty buildings such as Crown Court Buildings, Huddersfield Technical College, St George's Warehouse to provide personal space as an interim measure before people became embedded in the community. These refurbished units could also fulfil a role to address longer term local housing need and support. It became clear as the meeting unfolded that these ideas were far too radical and sadly unnecessary. The UK Government had not been in touch with Councils like Kirklees to ask for our assistance. Our views and support were not sought. No Minister wrote to us calling for plans on how we could best help at this time of desperate need. It is almost as if hey didn't care.
The UK Govt plan is to help 20,000 refugees over the next 4 years. That is equivalent to 96/week for the whole UK. Hungary were seeing 2000/3000 pass through their borders daily just a few weeks ago so we clearly are playing a very small Part. Given our role in destabilising the Middle East it could be argued we bear more responsibility than most European countries for the refugee crisis, but the UK Govt approach is paying money to support camps abroad so we don't have to have actual people coming to our country. I don't know whether you could call his conscience money but it sure does look like an excuse.
Ultimately I think the UK could be the losers here. The interviews with refugees showed people in crisis but also many resilient people who will make a success of their lives and bring real benefits to any community they become a part of. On that basis it looks like the new tranche of refugees could be Germany's gain and our loss. Of course people will raise the issue of population and the impact that this has on local services but if we duck our humanitarian responsibilities we abandon our humanity. Of course we have to work for a more just world and one free of conflict but if that can't be achieved then we have an obligation as fortunate people of the same species, on the same world, to help 'our own'.
Monday, 21 September 2015
A BBC report yesterday highlighted that Councils were failing to replace council houses lost from public ownership under the Right to Buy. As is becoming typical of certain sections of the BBC News, it was a report that lacked explanation or analysis. It seemed to lay the blame squarely with Local Authorities with no recognition that lack of resources from central Government or even the lead in times required to build new housing to replace it with were very significant factors. The big concern at present is the Government manifesto commitment to extend the Right to Buy to Housing Association properties will further diminish the stock of affordable rented accommodation. I am aware of a number of sensible Conservatives who think this policy is nonsense as well.
One of the principal problems is the Government commitment that houses lost through the Right to Buy will be replaced with an 'affordable' home. So for a start an 'affordable' home is not a council house. It could be a house provided by a Housing Association where the rents are usually higher than Council properties or it could be a starter home or a house which is just a little cheaper to buy than the average price in that area. So it may be an 'affordable' home for a few but certainly not for everyone and definitely not for people on the lowest of incomes. What we need if housing is to be replaced is at the very least a'like for like' replacement. A council house for a council house.
My view would be that the huge discounts given to householders to purchase what was a public asset is a loss to us all. Council housing is a common good. It offers an alternative to ownership. It provides a wider choice of tenure and as such, if properly supported and expanded, could offer a restraining force on ever rising house prices. One of the real problems of Right to Buy is the sale of properties ending up as private rented properties at extortionate rents. On Elm Manor Estate in Newsome there are ex Council houses that are now student rented accommodation. Students need homes like everyone else but for private landlords to make a killing largely at the public expense is just plain wrong.
Ultimately government need to recognise that having a mixed tenure of housing, with a strong and growing social rented sector is a good thing and that ownership of property is not always positive or desirable. I guess that makes me a dangerous communist and a threat to national security. I'll go and hand myself into the nearest police station immediately.
Friday, 18 September 2015
It is rather perplexing to read Cllr Bill Armer complaining about the supposed financial legacy left by the Green Party on Kirkburton Parish Council. In reality Cllr Armer and his Conservative colleague voted in favour of the last Parish Council budget. He says that the last Parish Council gave pledges which he describes as ‘coming from a left leaning, quasi – socialist Party’ . I do find it rather bizarre then that he voted for these policies as did the Liberal Democrats and the Independents. In fact the only person who didn’t vote for the last Parish Council budget was the sole Labour Party Councillor who abstained and I guess he regards himself as a ‘Socialist’.
Cllr Armer says he wants to move ‘Kirkburton Parish Council away from Party Political Ideology’ . My very clear recollection was that there was a lot of goodwill right across the Parties on the Parish Council. The only people I ever remember as bringing ‘party politics’ into the Parish Council were in fact the Conservatives. We generally worked well together across political parties and independents. We worked with the Keep Shelley Pyramid campaign to protect local schools. We engaged with many community groups and schools on worthwhile projects including the thousand fruit tree project. We supported the Kirkburton walks projects promoting walking in our beautiful countryside. There was nothing that I can recollect or I suspect many other Parish Cllrs of any Party that could be described as ‘Party Political Ideology’.
Anyone who has followed politics in the Kirkburton Ward should recognise that this is not about invented issues with the Parish Council Budget or some mythical ‘quasi socialist’ Parish Council. This is all about next Year’s May Local Elections and a cynical attempt by the Conservatives to smear the Green Party for political gain.
Councillor Andrew Cooper
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Response to Conservative Cllr John Taylor's misleading statement on Kirkburton Parish Council finances
Councillor John Taylor has made a number of factually incorrect statements regarding Kirkburton Parish Council’s finances.
He states that the Council reserves should be 25% of the Annual precept (the amount the Parish raises from the Council Tax payer each year) . In fact it should be 25% of the planned expenditure. This is an important difference as it is up to the Parish each year to decide how much it will or will not spend. Councillor Taylor correctly notes that Parish Council reserves were reduced but fails to acknowledge that these reserves were approved by an Independent Auditor of the Parish Council finances. £4k of that reduction was to cover the costs of improvements to Kirkburton Library as part of the previous administrations plans to save the service for local people and as such is a proper use of reserves. Currently Parish reserves are expected to be £31,384 well within the tolerance of expected expenditure. Before Councillor Taylor says that this is down to the cuts he has introduced these only account for £2k of savings to date. Cllr Taylor also states that the reduction in the Environment Budget was about a supposed financial crisis. The reality is that this money was re- allocated to a project to install defibrillators across the Parish. It wasn’t used to fill some mythical hole in the Parish Council’s budget.
Cllr Taylor keeps referring to the budgets being agreed by the previous Green Party Administration. The fact is that no Parish Councillors voted against it including the 2 Conservative Parish Councillors present who actually voted in favour. In reality Cllr Taylor in my opinion does not really have concern for the Community or the Parish Council in mind here. This is all about the Conservatives desire to discredit the Green Party in advance of next May’s Local Elections.
Thursday, 10 September 2015
Sunday, 6 September 2015
PRESS RELEASE - A Statement by Green Party Councillors in the Yorkshireand Humber Region on proposals for an Elected Mayor.
|Kirklees Cllr Andrew Cooper with from l to r York Cllrs Lars Kramm, Denise Craghill , Andy D'Agorne, Leeds Cllr David Blackburn & Sheffield Cllr Rob Murphy|
Let us be clear there is no popular clamour among local people for an elected Mayor and in fact where referenda have taken place the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the concept. The Green Party are opposed to the centralisation of power inherent in the Government’s Mayoral proposals. Instead of a Mayor the Green Party would ideally prefer an elected Assembly for the whole of the Yorkshire and The Humber Region with the same powers as the Scottish Government.
Greens recognise that there is no actual increase in funds being offered to the Region by the UK Government, but instead the transfer of control from a remote Whitehall Government to remote Mayors. This is not true devolution of power that is on offer but the centralisation of power in the hands of one individual.
There are some attractions in taking powers from Whitehall to the Yorkshire and The Humber Region. For example, in 2013 the UK Government redirected £200million of European funding that was destined for Yorkshire to Scotland, presumably with one eye on the Independence referendum. If what is on offer could prevent that misappropriation of funds by the UK Government then that would be a positive thing. It has to be pointed out that ‘Asks’ from Yorkshire Council Leaders have not been voted on by the Councils in the Region so the negotiations themselves lack any democratic legitimacy.
The ‘Asks’ that Yorkshire Council Leaders have requested of Government in return for having Elected Mayors will be meaningless if they are not accountable. The Combined Authorities in the Region are not truly democratic or accountable bodies. Its members are there by virtue of the fact that they are Leaders of Councils, along with a few Opposition leaders to nominally give political balance. They are effectively unelected appointees to a political body and have no mandate.
Green Party Councillors in the Yorkshire Region believe there should be no Mayoral Deals without Elected Assemblies. The Assemblies, elected by proportional representation, should become the Combined Authorities. They should have the same powers as the Greater London Assembly and be able to veto any Mayor’s proposed Budgets and Strategies with a 2/3rds majority. What is good enough for London should be good enough for Yorkshire.
The Green Party believes that any proposals for an Elected Mayor within the region should be subject to a Referendum to be held at the same time as the Police and Crime Commissioner/Local Elections in May 2016. This will help reduce costs and ensure that the people have the final say.
Without all these conditions and safeguards Green Party Councillors will oppose any proposed Elected Mayor in our region.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Green Party Cllr Robert Barraclough who proposed the motion said,
"I am very pleased the motion has been passed. We need to make more people aware of the dangers associated with these lanterns to horses, cows and other animals. Kirklees now needs to take a lead and get the message out to other landowners across the district"
Robert Barraclough's said
Evidence has shown that the frames of lanterns can harm or even kill farm animals if they are ingested But it’s not just farm animals which can be affected. Sky lanterns can cause fires to crops, grassland on moors and bales of hay and straw that have been stacked, which can lead to a loss of buildings.
Many people simply do not understand that these lanterns are dangerous and damaging and this motion is aimed at raising peoples’ awareness of the dangers of setting off these lanterns and the consequences it has for cows and sheep on local farms.
This is a problem which not only affects livestock farmers but also the thriving Equestrian population in our area as horses also are fed on fodder which can be contaminated with the lanterns.
This is not just about animal welfare and raising awareness to the public about the dangers posed by these lanterns it is about litter in our local environment.
Last year, the Trading Standards Institute published a new code of practice for sky lanterns following discussions between the government and industry.
The code offers guidance for those designing, manufacturing, distributing, retailing or using sky lanterns – this motion also calls on West Yorkshire Trading Standards /West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to sign up to this Trading Standards Institute Industry Code of Practice and to work with manufacturers , distributors and retailers in West Yorkshire to improve safety standards and biodegradeability of sky lantern products