Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Suma - you can have your ethically sourced organic cake and eat it!

Cllr Karen Allison, Julius Nicholson (Suma) and Cllr Andrew Cooper
 Imagine a business where everyone is paid the same wage whether you are the cleaner, work in the office, are management or on the shop floor. Imagine a business where jobs rotate so everyone gets to know every aspect of what makes it tick. Imagine a business where all major decisions that affect it are made by all the employees/members. Imagine it was a multi million pound business employing over 150 staff trading internationally. Imagine no more, this is Suma Wholefoods just over the Kirklees border in Elland. I went over there last week to see how it worked and get a feel for the place.

Suma has a huge warehouse full of foods with a strong emphasis on organic, fair trade, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced products. Suma's values make it a strong force for good business practice not just in environmental terms but in treatment of its employees. I've worked in the public sector, the rapacious cut throat private sector and even an employee owned company so it was refreshing to see a successful workers cooperative of many years standing doing so well. It is not the sort of company you would join if you were looking to buy a luxury yacht or a holiday cottage in the Cotswolds. What it does offer, it seems, is job satisfaction and relative job security in an increasingly insecure world. I got a buzz and feel for the place over the couple of hours I ŵas there and you definitely got the impression that it was a happy workforce as well as an obviously successful one. For me it showed that it is completely possible for a company to have strong ethical values, a democratic structure and 'cut the mustard' in the business world (wholegrain organic mustard of course!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Residents back Community Orchard

Supporters of a small community orchard in Huddersfield gathered to express their support for the Local Plan proposal that would see their orchard protected as local green space. The community orchard on the corner of Wentworth Street and Mountjoy Road was considered as possible building land by Kirklees but has been used for a number of community events over the last 5 years and as a place for children to play.

Tom Taylor, chair of the Friends of Highfields Community Orchard said

"We created the orchard on a disused piece of land in 2010. We're delighted that the draft local plan recognises that it is important to local people as a place for play, community events and a space which brings us together."

The Kirklees local plan will describe how land will be used in Kirklees in coming years. The consultation ends on 1 Feb. Kirklees residents are encouraged to make their views known and the final decisions about land use will be made later this year.

Councillor Andrew Cooper said

"All credit to the local people for campaigning so hard over the last few years to save this land from development and making it a special space for the community. Hopefully we are nearly there now!"


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Green Leader calls for ' Save A&E' posters and banners on Kirklees buildings and vehicles

At Saturday's successful Demonstration against the proposed closure of Huddersfield Accident and Emergency and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary Kirklees Green Party Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper called for all Council buildings and vehicles to be allowed to display 'Hands off HRI' and 'Save our A&E' posters.

Councillor Cooper said,

"At last Wednesday's Full Council meeting all parties on Kirklees gave unequivocal backing to the campaign to protect NHS Services in the area. A very tangible and visible example of that support would be to allow the Council's Town Halls, Libraries, offices and other public buildings to display posters and banners in support of the campaign to protect local health services. The Council could also allow its vehicles such as vans and even bin waggons to be used to display appropriate posters. We need to demonstrate that it is the whole community and the institutions that represent it that oppose these proposals. I will raise this idea with other Party leaders and the Chief Executive of the Council."

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Greens to call for an Extraordinary Kirklees Council meeting on the Huddersfield Accident and Emergency crisis.

Councillors Andrew Cooper and Karen Allison at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
 Green Councillors on Kirklees Council are to call for an Extraordinary Council Meeting to focus on the crisis facing Hospital Services including the threatened Huddersfield Accident and Emergency Unit.

In Wednesday’s Council meeting Councillor Andrew Cooper, Leader of the Kirklees Green Party Group will propose an amendment to motion on NHS Services asking the Council to:

“call an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council regarding NHS Services in Kirklees as the only item on the agenda at the earliest opportunity.”

The amendment goes on to call on all political groups on Kirklees Council to,

“work together to establish a joint resolution on NHS Services in Kirklees to be presented to the  Extraordinary Meeting”

Councillor Andrew Cooper said,

“This is too important an issue to be used for political point scoring on which Government is to blame for getting us into this mess. We need to focus on solutions and a way forward to resolve this crisis. That is why I have asked all parties to come together to produce a joint resolution for decision at an Extraordinary Council Meeting. I would be keen for us to invite appropriate NHS officials and Management to address the meeting and answer questions from elected members. There should also be an opportunity for contributions from local people at the beginning of the meeting.”


Monday, 18 January 2016

Not my Government

Why is it that I can't relate to Cam and his pals?
Yet more cuts being passed down from the Goverment to Kirklees Council has made me ask myself what I actually think and feel about them.

I described them recently, and very deliberately as the 'Tories Government' what I meant by this was that they were representing themselves, their Party members views and to a certain extent their voters views but no one else really. They were elected by 24% of the electorate and with 37% of the 'popular' vote. Due to the quirks of mathematics in our flawed First Past the Post electoral system the Tories are the UK Govt with 100% of the power. I don't regard them has having any real democratic legitimacy. They don't even have the good grace to behave like a benevolent illegitimate Government. They trash industries which will give us a safer environment, they make poor people poorer and give tax breaks to the rich. The lack of compassion and arrogance of the Government is contemptible.

So other than having a bit of a rant what am I trying to say here? Well if they are an illegitimate Government behaving against the interests of large swaithes of the population then I regard them in the same way as I would regard a hostile occupying force working against the interests of many people. It is genuinely how I feel and I think it is dangerous when people find themselves feeling about the Government of their country in this way. Imagine if you can a Labour Government getting elected on similar quirky mathematics as this bunch of gangsters. Sure, it may well behave in a more benevolent fashion but its legitimacy is just as questionable. Until Labour genuinely embrace electoral reform they will not fundamentally change our country for the better and our society , our communities and our country will remain divided, angry and unstable.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Solar installed at Stirley Community Farm

 Solar panels have been installed at Stirley Community Farm on the training barn and office building which will save Yorkshire Wildlife Trust around £500/year in electricity costs.

Stirley Community Farm has a lot of support from local people. They are training young people, providing local food and keeping the fields around Newsome both green and productive. This scheme will help them be more environmentally and economically sustainable. The more we can do to help the farm the more likely it will be that we can protect local fields from development for years to come and protect our local environment for future generations.

The solar panels were installed by Kirklees Building Services mere days before Government cut support for renewable energy projects like this.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Councillor Andrew Cooper - Photo Review of 2015

Kicked off the 2015 Election Year with an interview on the Daily Politics about crowdsurfed funding for election campaigning.

Nick Harvey, former and first Newsome Green Councillor came by at the beginning of the year to help with a clean up in Bluebell Woods

I spent some time helping Sheffield Greens last year in what was a target Constituency where we ended up in second place as the main challengers to Labour

I commenced my role as a member of the UK Delegation on the EU Committee of the Regions. I described it as like getting to know a whole new Council with its own culture, rules and ways of making it effective.

The Greens 2000 house solar PV programme kicked off with these properties in Mirfield. It was great to see a scheme that we initiated finally get off the ground.

It was our biggest ever Green Party Conference with more media attention than we were used to. Our Spring Conference was in Liverpool with close on 2000 Green Party delegates.

In Sheffield with Target Green Candidate Jillian Creasy and Aisling from CITU looking at Passivhaus Developments on Kelham Island. Promoting Passivhaus standards was to become my big policy project for 2015.

With Patrick Harvie MSP, Jillian Creasy, Green Candidate for Sheffield Central and Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens on a Manchester Tram on our way to the first General Election leader debates. We were the Green Party team in the 'Spin Room'  to give our views following the debate.

I was involved in launching the Green Party Manifesto by dealing with BBC Breakfast and News 24 interviews on the morning before the  official launch later in the day.

I represented the Green Party on theBBC Politics Show Energy and Climate Chamge debate. It was satisfying to tackle the Lib Dems on their abysmal record in Government.

I really enjoyed the many hustings for the General Election. This one was at the University of Huddersfield

In March I appeared on the BBC Daily Politics talking about a national survey that had carried out comparing the views of UKIP and Green Councillors. On the same programme Queen guitarist Brian May was talking about the need for ‘common decency’ and respect in local politics. Here’s I am outside the studio with Huntingdonshire UKIP Cllr Peter Reeve being ‘held back’ by Brian May. We were just having a bit of fun but Brian had a serious message to make about how politicians behave which more should take notice of.

I attended a summer do at Highfields Community Orchard with Cllr Karen Allison. This was the year that the Council decided to propose it as an Urban Greenspace in the Draft Local Plan.

In Brussels at the EU Committee of the Regions I called for fines imposed on VW to come back to local communities to support clean transport projects.

Longley Road Traffic Calming installed at last!

At Newsome Childrens Play Day

Recognising the positive work by the Muslim community in raising money for charity

The weight limit signs go up at Armitage Bridge

Green Cllrs from across Yorkshire respond to Regional Mayoral proposals

Judging the Mon Realm Gardening Competition

At the Stirley Farm Food Festival with Karen- great day!

At Green Party Conference in Bournemouth with other Green Cllrs from across the country and Cllr Marianne Overton Leader of teh Local Govt Association Independent Group

With Taylor Hill Road residents protesting against proposals from Kirklees to designate their gardens for housebuilding

At the opening of Turtle Bay with Cllr Julie Stewart Turner and staff

Being interviewed by the BBC as Newsome bowlers regain entry to their Bowling Green

Speaking in Paris France at the COP 21 European Forum on the role of Local Councils in addressing climate change

Yorkshire Greens walk to Paris Yorkshire in the rain

Newsome residents gather to express their opposition to development on fields adjacent to Newsome Rd/Jackroyd lane

With Karen and Julie as developers announce that work is to commence on Newsome Mills in 2016

Driving our Free Volunteer Boxing Day + New Years Day Minibus in its 23rd year of operation