Friday, 27 September 2019

Climate Emergency - Will Kirklees take it seriously?

Speaking at the Climate Strike demo in Huddersfield
At last weeks Kirklees Full Council meeting I attempted to submit a Green Party motion on the £100 million of regional funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority that is being used to support the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. The Combined Authority is Labour Controlled and Kirklees Labour Leader Shabir Pandor sits on the Authority. There is a clear conflict with the statements by Leaders supposedly supporting the calls for a Climate Emergency. In the meeting I requested that a Green Party motion that was the first motion on the agenda be substituted for our motion on Leeds Bradford Airport that was much later on the agenda. I made the point that we have declared a climate emergency and as such this was an important issue that we ought to debate and as we were simply substituting one Green motion for another there was no detriment. The Labour Party Councillors voted down this change in the agenda. They clearly did not want to debate it. In the end no motions were debated at all as Council was guillotined at 9.00pm.

This has been the month when millions of children and adults from around the world have been demonstrating to show the need for urgent action given our deteriorating climate. Only days ago Greta Thunberg in the United Nations has berated those politicians who have failed to act in the face of undeniable evidence from climate scientists saying that the need for action is urgently required.  Commendably Leeds City Region has stated how it aims to be carbon neutral by 2038 however a study by researchers at the University of Leeds has shown that Leeds City Region Carbon Targets could be blown completely by Leeds Bradford Airports expansion plans.

My reading matter this week.
In the next few weeks Kirklees Climate Emergency Working Party, of which I am a member, will be reporting on its recommendations for action by the Kirklees Labour Cabinet. We have heard a lot of evidence from Council officers and some input from relevant local businesses. I hope the recommendations from the Working Party will be challenging but realistic. Of course realistic can be radical, realistic can be cutting edge and realistic can be pioneering but it requires political will and being prepared to take risks. Mediocrity on climate action is not acceptable and is completely ineffective.  I have been concerned to hear leading Labour politicians talking of being ‘realistic’ when what they really mean is doing the bare minimum. I feel that the voices of the Labour Old Guard hold sway. Those who at worst don’t really understand the threat of climate change and at best don’t recognise the opportunities we have to make significant change. A change that could really show the way for other  Local Authorities across the country.  If we are led by dinosaurs we will simply go the way of the dinosaurs.

Hearing the Labour Cabinet Member with responsibility for Climate Change speak at the Climate Strike Demonstration in St Georges Square on Friday claiming, hopefully through ignorance, that we were the first Council in the country to declare a climate emergency was particularly concerning. We were actually about the hundredth in the UK. We weren’t even the first in Yorkshire. It’s not that it was Green Councillors who successfully proposed the first climate emergencies that concerns me ( in Bristol, Nationally and Scarborough, Regionally) but that Kirklees Leaders have such a lack of self awareness as a Council that we don’t  recognise that we are no longer one of the Leading Authorities on action on Climate Change. There’s no shame in that if we have positive plans to improve but not recognising reality is not a good place to start from.

There is an urgent need for politicians in Kirklees to ‘step up’ and provide a radical and inspiring plan showing how we can be local leaders on climate action and not simply take the easy path that is destined to achieve very little. I remain hopeful and I will do my best to advise Kirklees on what action it should take but I believe that perhaps the most useful thing would be to play Greta Thunberg’s speech to the United Nations before the next Kirklees Full Council meeting. That should help focus Councillors minds.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

An open letter regarding investment in Leeds Bradford Airport to members of the Leeds City Region Board from Green Party Councillors in the Region

An open letter regarding investment in Leeds Bradford Airport to members of the Leeds City Board from Green Party Councillors in the region

You will of course be aware that only a few weeks ago Leeds City Region and its constituent Councils declared a Climate Emergency in response to the stark warnings on the threat of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the fact that we have a limited amount of time to bring our emissions under control.

Proposals to invest public money in transport links to Leeds Bradford Airport are aimed at supporting its expansion plans which can only mean more flights and more carbon emissions making our chances of hitting our net zero carbon emissions target by 2038 remote if not impossible.

A study by academics at Leeds University has shown how support for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport is incompatible with our declaration of a climate emergency. This contradiction needs to be addressed.

As Green Party Councillors in the Leeds City Region we are calling on you to oppose the use of public funds to improve transport links to Leeds Bradford airport and for that funding to be reinvested in projects that will significantly reduce carbon emissions.

I am sure you will agree with us that declaring a climate emergency and then making no changes to those actions which are in conflict with that policy makes no sense.

Cllr Andrew Cooper - Kirklees Council
Cllr Karen Allison - Kirklees Council
Cllr Sue Lee-Richards - Kirklees Council

Cllr Ann Blackburn - Leeds City Council
Cllr Ann Forsaith - Leeds City Council
Cllr David Blackburn - Leeds City Council

Cllr Martin Love - Bradford City Council
Cllr Kevin Warnes - Bradford City Council

Cllr Andy Brown - Craven District Coumcil
Cllr David Noland : Craven District Council

Cllr Andy D'Agorne - York City Council
Cllr Denise Craghill - York City Council
Cllr Dave Taylor - York City Council
Cllr Rosie Baker - York City Council

Holiday house book review - The Ladybird Book - The Story of Plastics

There's been a bit of a fad in the last few years for spoof Ladybird books such as the Ladybird book of  'The Mother' 'The Student' etc so imagine my delight to find some on the bookshelves in the holiday house we stayed in in Scotland.

They were actually not spoof books but the real thing that with hindsight were  grimly amusing.

Given the impact of Blue Planet showing how plastics have polluted our oceans and caused umtold damage to our marine ecosystems The one that caught my eye was the Ladybird book of ' Plastics' published in 1972. I laughed out loud when I saw the page on 'before plastics and they had a picture of stone age cave dwellers, as if the whole of history was completely primitive before the age
of plastic.

The whole book is completely uncritical as you would expect from an educational book aimed at children just before the dawn of the Green Movement in the UK and probably written by the industry itself. What really did strike me was what innocent times those were. Our actions had no perceived consequences. We don't have that excuse anymore.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Climate Change? No problem let's move to Havering!

As sea levels rise, heatwaves ravage the populations of our cities and crop failures leave millions facing starvation what are we to do? We are told by Climate Scientists after years of peer reviewed science that climate change will affect us all but fortunately they are rather surprisingly wrong, in Havering at least!

Now I'm no climate change denier as a general rule but the good Councillors of the London Borough of Havering when presented with a motion at a Council meeting in July asking them to 'Declare a Climate Emergency' voted against it. It would be uncharitable to suggest they ignored the scientific evidence, that they valued their own opinions, or that of some bloke in a pub, more than that of climate scientists so all I can assume is that the London Borough of Havering has a very resilient micro climate or a protective shield which maintains a stable environment. That's not all of course their economy must also be independent of all the same influences that those of us unfortunates on the rest of the planet who are actually affected by a climate emergency have to put up with.

The London Borough of Havering is a truly blessed place. So when our homes and streets are inundated, when extreme weather conditions make large parts of the world uninhabitable then the London Borough of Havering is the place to go to. I am sure that was what the Councillors who opposed the Climate Emergency meant. They want Havering to be a beacon for climate refugees. Perhaps they could build a 'Statue of Climate Liberty' saying beneath it " Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses your yearning masses". What a good spirited bunch are the Councillors who opposed the Climate Emergency motion are and what were those Havering Councillors who proposed the motion thinking of?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Sounds from Number 76

I did a couple of compilations of varied music that I liked about 10 years or so ago. I found one of  the CDs yesterday so I thought I'd put them all in a blogpost. Harder to lose! Harder to scratch. This obviously comes under the "and also anything else I fancy talking about" part of my Blog description.
 It's pretty varied from 17th century choral music to the Dead Kennedy's but I think it hangs together OK. It finishes off with 'That's Entertainment' by The Jam. I've mentioned to a number of people that I'd like it played at my funeral. So if you happen to be there and they don't play it then please feel free to complain on my behalf.

Enjoy or not!

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Kingfisher Court will not be a new Grenfell Tower

Today I and my 2 Newsome Cllr colleagues Sue Lee-Richards and Karen Allison were on the scene as officers from Kirklees Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service entered  Kingfisher Court, on Manchester Rd in Huddersfield to issue a notice making it illegal for the flats there to be used overnight as sleeping accommodation due to non-compliance with fire safety elements of the building regulations.

Kingfisher Court is supposed to be student accommodation  and during the summer it is generally overseas students who are still in residence which has limited to an extent the number of people disrupted but it was good to see Kirklees staff on hand to help those people who would have nowhere safe to stay that evening. The people managing the blocks now need to rectify the problems identified so Kingfisher Court can be a safe place for people to live in.

The relatively new buildings have had a troubled history with some of the student flats appearing as places to stay on Air BnB in contravention of their student status and therefore eligible for Council Tax. There was also some speculation that those rooms may have been used for purposes other than simple overnight stays.

So how do we end up with a situation where new buildings end up in contravention of fire regulations? Building Regulations in the UK are privatised. Developers don't have to use the Council's diminished Building Control function. Instead they can get a private contractor to carry out this work who they pay, who may cut corners and not be as stringent on compliance with the rules as they should be. It looks highly possible that this is what has occurred in this case, So with all that been revealed in the Grenfell Enquiry has anything meaningful being done to change the Building Control system? Last years amemdments to Building Regulations certainly tightened things up but in my view Building Control should be re-regulated brought back into the public sector and be properly resourced to ensure safety for residents and strict compliance with Building Regulations. The private sector should never override the public interest ever again.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Local Government Association - Climate Emergency Task and Finish Group - some thoughts

A few weeks ago the Local Government Association (LGA) declared a Climate Emergency following on from over a 100 Councils doing so, from around the country, in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report saying we have only 12 years (now 11 years!) to stabilise emissions to a level which can achieve the Paris Climate Goals agreed at COP21. As part of this declaration the LGA established a Climate Emergency Task and Finish group to examine the issues and make recommendations. I am one of five Councillors from around the UK on this group. 

Here's some thoughts in advance about some of the the recommendations we could make

  • establish a National Climate Taskforce including Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Ministry of Communities, Housing & Local Government and the Local Government Association representatives to drive action on climate change at the local level, addressing barriers to action and making good practice examples the mainstream 
  • Councils to produce  Climate Action Plans on how they can cut emissions quickly and what actions they could take with greater support from central Government.
  • Councils to lead local Climate Action Partnerships to drive deeper action on carbon emission reductions. This would draw in support from business, the wider public sector, the voluntary sector and the wider community
  • Government  to give  a clear steer to local Councils that they are expected to insist on higher energy efficiency standards in new buildings up to (and preferably) the Passivhaus Standard. This to be followed as swiftly as possible by strengthening of the energy efficiency standards in Building Regulations.
  • Reregulate and strengthen the Building Control function to ensure strict adherence to energy efficiency standards.
  • Councils to produce a plan (with a timetable) for a complete electrification of their vehicle fleets and to work with other large fleet operators on similar plans.
  • Revive the Home Energy Conservation Act powers of Local Government and ask for new plans to be established within a year for costed plans to improve the energy efficiency of homes in line with the emissions savings we need to achieve the Paris Climate goals within a ten year timeframe.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Climate Emergency - Heading for 3 degrees - How do we stop it?

Tough but still not enough!
What do we know? We know that the carbon savings agreed by governments from around the world will not meet the Paris Climate goals. They will in fact take us to a 3 degree world by 2050. A global temperature rise of 3 degrees across the world is a world where large regions of the world become uninhabitable, where the sea rises by a metre every 20 years, where coastal cities are either inundated or fortresses, with many millions of refugees, where agricultural production will crash. The Home Counties of England will be more like Marrakech. 500 Million tonnes of carbon will be released from melted permafrost locking in future temperature rises. People will die in their millions. So our current inadequate Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce carbon emissions are effectively a death sentence for countless people and will condemn many millions more into stifling, miserable and poor living conditions.

So what made Climate Change into a Climate Emergency? Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the United Nations sponsored body produced a special report on Climate Change stating that  serious action to limit emissions was too slow and that if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change then action needs taking now. Currently it is estimated that the Earth's temperature rises by an average of 0.2 degrees every 10 years. So with global temperatures already estimated to be nearly 1 degree above post industrial levels we need to act very swiftly to have a chance of stabilising our Climate. Last years IPCC report said within 12 years it is now 11 years and the clock is still ticking downwards.

So what does this mean for us as local authorities?

Many of us (over 100 now at the last count) have declared Climate Emergencies. The first was in Bristol City Council following a motion proposed by the Green Party Councillors there. Many Councils have now followed their lead including my own Kirklees Council.

In Parliament the Green Baroness Jenny Jones introduced a Climate Emergency debate to the House of Lords and Caroline Lucas MP raised it first in the Commons as an Early Day Motion and in May Labour tabled a motion which was agreed.

Last week Leeds City Region announced that all the Councils within their boundaries will be net zero carbon by 2038. This target is undoubtedly tough but not enough. 2038 according to the science is 8 years too late, but it is a start and we should embrace it as an encouraging first step. Leeds City Region is a huge area consisting of the Councils of Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale, Harrogate, Craven, Barnsley, York and Selby so to get this degree of joint commitment is impressive.

The new Leeds City Region Climate Coalition needs a new committed partner and that has to be the UK Government. All the Council Leaders in the City Region need to send a letter to whoever the Prime Minister is next month and tell them "Congratulations  you are now a member of the Leeds City Region Climate Coalition!". With membership comes responsibilities and we need their commitment to ensure we reach even the 2038 target and certainly the 2030 target that we really need to achieve.

The concern now is that feeling that the Councils that make up the Leeds City Region don't really appreciate what they have signed up to and consider it 'Business as Usual' but with a few green initiatives. What is needed now are robust action plans that demonstate what actions will be taken and by when and how much carbon emissions will be reduced by and how quickly.

A demonstrable sense of urgency is essential in a climate emergency

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

PRESS STATEMENT - Greens Welcome Climate Change lobby of Kirklees Council

Green Party Councillors on Kirklees Council have welcomed the lobby of Kirklees Council today by nearly a 100 Climate Change protestors.

Councillor Andrew Cooper, Leader of the Green Group said

“It is surely no coincidence that Kirklees Council have put out a statement on the climate emergency a day before the lobby of the Council. It was inspiring to see nearly 100 people attend to show the strength of local support for robust action on climate change. We have a lot of work to do  if we are to play our part in reducing carbon emissions to a safe level.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say that we need to stabilise our emissions to a safe level by 2030. Kirklees Council has agreed, along with other West Yorkshire Councils, to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2038. This target is tough but not enough. There is no clear idea in Kirklees yet on how this target will be achieved and we need to plan quickly the actions we will need to take to ensure it is achieved.

A real area of concern is that the Council has not yet adopted a high energy efficiency standard for new buildings. An all party Policy Working Group recommended adopting the Passivhaus standard for new buildings in Kirklees over 2 years ago and the Cabinet has not responded to the report recommendations despite several attempts  to get them to do so. Other Councils such as Norwich and Exeter are specifying the Passivhaus standard in their developments but Kirklees is so far lagging behind in this area.

The Climate Emergency Working Group on Kirklees Council continues to work hard to see what proposals and initiatives we should recpommend to Kirklees Cabinet. It is supposed to be an all –party Working Group but it is shameful that the Conservatives have refused to nominate a representative to this important group. We need to have all politicians working together on this vital issue.”

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Green Party Motion to Kirklees Council - The proper funding of local services

Motion to July Full Council in the names of Cllrs 
Andrew Cooper, Sue Lee-Richards and Karen Allison

Motion - 
The proper funding of local services

The UK is a member of the Council of Europe (this is not the European Union) and as such is a signatory to the European Charter of Local Self Government.
The provisions of the Charter state
“The protection of financially weaker local authorities calls for the institution of financial
equalisation procedures or equivalent measures which are designed to correct the effects of
the unequal distribution of potential sources of finance and of the financial burden they must
support. Such procedures or measures shall not diminish the discretion local authorities may
exercise within their own sphere of responsibility”.

It has been demonstrated that Kirklees Council is seriously underfunded per head of population compared with other Councils with similar responsibilities and characteristics.

This Council calls on the Leader of Kirklees Council to raise this breach with
-          the Council of Europe in his role as a member of that body
-          the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

This Council further calls on the Leader of the Council, working with all other political group leaders , to request that Government takes steps to ensure that Kirklees is properly able to fund local services and that Government fulfils its obligations as a signatory of the European Charter of Self Government.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Greening the Huddersfield Blueprint

The drawings and visions of what Huddersfield Town Centre could be in the Huddersfield Blueprint have been generally well received. Huddersfield could certainly do with a new look and re-imagining for the rest of the 21st Century. But what about the detail? What are the things that will help make the Town Centre a destination for people both from our area and further afield? How will we attract people of all ages and interests to spend time there and also some money perhaps? 

Here's some ideas.

Promote locally owned and managed shops as a priority - The future is local. The demise of big town centre stores, the loss of places like Marks and Spencer and BHS owes a lot to the rise of internet shopping.  Town Centre retail in the future should be more about unique, quality, local products with shops and services that are owned and managed by local people and are not readily available on the internet. Quite apart from anything else this means that more money will circulate in the local economy with shops being a key part of a local supply chain. A key question Kirklees need to ask themselves again and again is "How do our proposals help locally owned and managed businesses?". Too much emphasis can be placed on pursuing big national anchor retailers when their precarious future is best protected by having a diverse offer which brings a variety of people into the Town Centre looking for a mix of offers.

A Bilbao drinking water fountain
Lots of drinking water fountains - I saw this in my recent visit to Bilbao. There were public drinking water fountains all over the place. If we really do want to see the end of the plastic bottle then one way is to make our refreshing Yorkshire tap water more accessible to more people. We want to encourage a culture of people carrying their own water bottles. These drinking water fountains should be attractive, sculptural and more of a feature than simply a utilitarian municipal provision.

More pedestrianisation - the most successful Town and City Centres are the ones with lots of pedestrianised areas. There is always resistance to pedestrianisation from people who claim that it will diminish trade  by making the town centre not car- friendly but all the evidence actually points in the other direction.

Huddersfield Town Centre Clean Air Zone - Parts of Huddersfield Town Centre are already Air Quality Management Areas due to polluting vehicles. Leeds and Bradford have plans for Clean Air Zones where they will charge the most polluting vehicles to enter their City Centres. This will undoubtedly mean that the most polluting buses will be operating in towns like Huddersfield and the clean low emission ones will be in Leeds and Bradford. Establishing a clean air zone within Huddersfield Town Centre will send a message that this is a cleaner, safer and healthy environment for people to bring their families. It will also help accelerate the adoption of lower emission taxi vehicles and delivery vehicles coming into the Town Centre.

More Electric vehicle charging points - The electric car, van and truck are coming and the number of electric vehicles is growing quickly. The council needs a much greater number of electric charging points than the few that are currently planned. As electric vehicles become more common the Council could offer free parking for electric vehicles but charge for charging them up. Any new parking facilities planned like the one next to St Georges Warehouse should all have electric charging points

Childrens Play Areas - Other than the Childrens Library
what is there for kids in Huddersfield Town Centre? The Huddersfield Blueprint says it wants the town to be "family friendly" but no play areas in the visuals. I have seen numerous European city centres where there are lots of play areas and the places are alive and are welcoming to families. For many years Greens and particularly ex-Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner have pushed hard for more play areas in Huddersfield

Giant spider sculpture - Bilbao
Street art and sculpture - When I visited Bilbao a key part of its revival as a city was about embracing public art. There are murals and sculpture in so many places in the city centre. Some are modern some are traditional but they all add vibrancy and interest to the area. We need to think big on public art. On a visit to Sweden I remember seeing a 30 foot tall Pinnochio statue striding across a roundabout. It was striking and one of a number of art installations across the town. 

Embrace the night-time economy and make it safer for young people - Young people and students love a night out in Huddersfield with clubs and bars staying open till the early hours of the morning. Its great and it's all part of the experience of being young but we need to do much more to ensure they feel safe and better resourced policing and Kirklees licensing officers would all help. 

Free WiFi - Free Wifi in Huddersfield Town Centre  would be hugely attractive and definitely make the Town a destination for many. Many coffee shops and some pubs offer it now but to make it free across the whole town centre and particularly in public spaces would be hugely attractive

An outdoor gym in the Civic Quarter
Free to use outdoor gym equipment - or play areas for older people if you like. What if we had a number of locations across the town where outdoor gym equipment was available and you could charge your mobile phone by using it? A number of places spring to mind but top of my list would the empty space between Civic Centre 1 and Civic Centre 3 that I call "The Civic Expanse of Doom". It is one of the most depressing places in Huddersfield in my opinion

 A more democratic plan - If this is a plan that is to have the 'buy in' we so desperately need for something of this importance we need a broad range of involvement in its formulation and implementation. It needs other Huddersfield voices and interests involved other than one or two Cabinet members who happen to be members of one particular political party. We need broader political representation but also more involvement from bodies like the Huddersfield Civic Society and local businesses. They need to be the driving force behind the plan, the 'Huddersfield Blueprint Board' and not just recipients of information or consultees.

Personally I'm more than happy to back a plan that has a clear vision for the future of Huddersfield Town Centre  but it is vital that it is a Peoples Plan formed by many and not just the few.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Cross Lane, Primrose Hill Traffic Calming Plans revealed

After years of campaigning by local residents and Green Councillors here are the proposals for traffic calming on Cross Lane, Primrose Hill.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Islands at the forefront of energy transition and decarbonisation of economies - Speech by Cllr Andrew Cooper 18/6/19

I’m going to show you a model island community, with well insulated homes, that are heated by renewable energy and where all the food is sourced locally complete with composting toilets

This is Skara Brae on the Island of Orkneyl in Scotland last occupied around 4500 years ago and by all accounts this Neolithic village must have had a pretty good lifestyle with easy access to the sea for fishing, and cosy earth sheltered homes that probably have better thermal properties that some homes that people live in in Europe today. Now I am not for a second suggesting that an energy transition means going back to some mythical prehistoric golden age but that the same issues which islanders of millennia gone by faced are still relevant to the energy transition we are seeking today, the wealth of natural resources, the independence of spirit and a desire to be separate from the mainland make them often enthusiastic partners in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Today’s Orkney is still a leading Island in the renewable energy

 revolution but it is wind turbines and wave and tidal power that are the fuel and they now produce 120% of their electricity needs from 

the environment around them.

The EU has funded the Clean Energy for Islands Initiative to support energy transition in islands and to use them as testbeds for the Clean Energy Transition more generally.

Why islands? – Fossil fuels can be expensive to transport and energy connections to the mainland can also be prohibitively pricey. Using locally sourced renewable energy reduces dependency on fossil fuel imports. Islands by their nature are close to the sea and could take advantage of wave and tidal power and of course wind and solar energy just like anywhere else.

Specialist skills in maintenance and management may not be easily available but large scale renewable energy installations can give new opportunities for locals not just in installation but also in the repairs and ongoing maintenance that all energy systems require. So the same boats which may be used for local fishing and providing support to oil platforms may be the same ones that provide maintenance to offshore wind turbine installations and even tourist trips to see these massive wonders of engineering close up.

Clean energy transition in small/medium island is a complex issue due to geographical boundaries, the condition of the energy network, the cost of the fuels to be imported, the difficulty in reaching critical mass and economies of scale.

We have to recognise that the size of some islands make economies of scale for significant capital intensive energy generation  prohibitive which is where EU funding can help and be deployed appropriately to pump-prime renewables that provide a sustainable future for the communities they serve
These factors need taking into account and we need to make the  most out of the strong sense of belonging that can characterise many island communities so community ownership and community share offers for renewable energy technologies fit well with the psyche of islanders who have the means to participate but also offer opportunities for publicly owned energy generation by the Local Authorities and Councils responsible for public services.

The quadruple helix approach is critical where public services, industry, academia and crucially citizens are directly involved in reaching solutions that fit best with an islands approach that can be tailor made to meet their energy needs that also utilises the abundant resources around them.

It is of course a good thing to help islands achieve a decarbonised economy but what we learn in the process will inform how we approach decarbonising mainland communities more widely on the mainland as well because ultimately we all live on an island.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Open letter to Members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority - Will the WYCA declare a meaningful declaration of a climate emergency?

To members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Many councils in the Leeds City Region have declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. This follows the stark message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have only 11 years to bring our greenhouse gas emissions down to levels that will keep the global temperature rise to a survivable 1.5%. This clear warning requires action from every level of government including the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).

WYCA is responsible for significant investment in activities that promote economic activity, including the Leeds City Region Local Growth Deal. WYCA has a strong focus on ‘Inclusive Growth’, but will the economic activity we generate be both economically and environmentally sustainable? Can we demonstrate that all the activity that WYCA generates will reduce emissions? Can we demonstrate by how much? Can WYCA demonstrate how it will use its leadership role to reduce emissions amongst its partners in the region?

Currently there appears to be no rigorous assessment of the impact on greenhouse gas emissions of the decisions of the Investment Committee. In our opinion, given the significant funding of transport and road schemes by the Investment Committee, a full climate impact assessment should be produced for such projects before decisions are made to proceed with them or not.

We are, of course, aware of the valuable work being carried out by the Leeds City Region Green Economy Panel; but we need to look at all the activity being generated by WYCA in totality to ensure it has a positive impact on climate emissions and one that is consistent with the COP21 Paris Climate Goals.

Our request as Green Councillors in the Leeds City Region is to meet with appropriate Councillors/Officers with a view to a meaningful ‘Declaration of a Climate Emergency’ being made by WYCA as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Andrew Cooper – Kirklees Council
Cllr Karen Allison – Kirklees Council
Cllr Sue Lee-Richards – Kirklees Council

Cllr Ann Forsaith  - Leeds City Council
Cllr Anne Blackburn – Leeds City Council
Cllr David Blackburn – Leeds City Council

Cllr Kevin Warnes – Bradford City Council
Cllr Martin Love – Bradford City Council

Cllr Andy D’Agorne – York City Council
Cllr Denise Craghill – York City Council
Cllr David Taylor – York City Council
Cllr Rosie Baker – York City Council

Friday, 31 May 2019

Press Release - Mirfield Town Councillor Steve Benson joins the Green Party

Kirklees Green Leader Cllr Andrew 
A Mirfield Town Councillor has left the Conservatives to join the Green Party.  Steve Benson who is a Town Councillor for the Crossley Ward of Mirfield Town Council said , 

"As a Green Party Councillor, for Mirfield, I will continue to carry out the hard work I have done for Mirfield over the last four years. I feel that I can do more for Mirfield as a Green for our environment, and the flooding problems we have with the River Calder. My achievements to date as a  Mirfield town councillor consist of work to provide and direct information to repair the retaining wall at Newgate adjacent to the River Calder. and the same for the retaining wall at Crossley lane which holds back the playing field.

I fought a long campaign to help put a stop to the development of Balderstone Field which in October 2018 the proposed development was brought to a successful conclusion and the residents and campaigners won"

In the May local elections the Green Party pushed Labour into 3rd place, by one vote, making them the new challengers to the Conservatives in the Mirfield Ward.

Green Party Leader on Kirklees Council Andrew Cooper said,

"It's great to welcome Steve as a new Green Party member . I've seen many of the environmental projects Steve has championed on the Project Mirfield website and it is clear he will be a real asset to the Green cause as he already is to the community he represents"

Councillor Cooper expanded on the growing voice of Greens at the local level in Kirklees.

"As Steve has joined the Green Party this means that we now have representatives on 4 out of the 5 Parish Councils in Kirklees. In the May local elections we won 10 seats on Kirkburton Parish Council. In the Wooldale Ward Darryl Gould topped the Poll to become our representative on Holme Valley Parish Council and Sonia King has recently been coopted onto Meltham Town Council. What they all share is a positive commitment to improve the environment in the area they live and I look forward to working with them."

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Kirklees Elections 2019 - Newsome Campaign reflections

Councillor Sue Lee-Richards and team at the count
Obviously I'm really pleased that Sue Lee-Richards our new Green Party Candidate for Newsome Ward won big this year. She was defending Julie Stewart-Turner's seat and you always wonder how a new candidate will fare with the electorate. The  result saw our largest majority since 2000, our vote share rose to 63%. Lots of factors played in our favour. Our solid year round work and some very tangible successes were always going to play well which has seen us through 18 election wins on the trot. We were further helped by the frustration of electors with Labour and the Conservatives over the way they have handled the Brexit shambles as were Greens Independents and Lib Dems around the country.

The Labour Campaign this year was quite different  from last years. Then the Labour campaign was misleading, unpleasant and went down badly with electors. The new Labour candidate decided to focus his whole campaign on saving Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and made no mention was made of other more local issues at all. A lot of the Labour literature was unintelligible to anyone other than a committed Health Campaigner and even then it vastly overstated the influence a Council has over NHS decisions. The headline on their leaflet said "Hands of HRI" I think they meant "Hands Off HRI"

We again had the intervention in the election from the local developer who dug up the Newsome Bowling Green and said he was supporting Labour this year because he had been "victimised" by Green Councillors and me in particular. Lots I could say about this but think I'll give it a miss on this occasion.

The day before the election a large number of Green Party posterboards were removed from lamp posts overnight and taken away by persons unknown. Though Labour boards were left untouched I'm confident the Labour Party didn't remove them.

During our campaign we focused on issues of concern to local people and promoted our strong record of action in the community. Sue won BIG with our largest majority for 19 years with 2455 votes.

We never assume in elections that we will win and always contest them vigorously and were really pleased with the enthusiastic support and encouragement we received from local people.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

An Interview with Sue Lee-Richards, 2019 Newsome Green Party Candidate

Sue Lee-Richards

New Laithe Hill resident and Newsome Community Forum Treasurer and volunteer Sue Lee Richards will be standing for the Green Party at the next Local Elections on Thursday May 2nd as Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner will be standing down after 17 years as a local Councillor.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I will admit that I was born in Lancashire, but I have made Yorkshire my home for the last 27 years.  I am married to Gideon and have been a teacher for 22 years and worked for a local green business based in Huddersfield. I am currently working as supply teacher on a part time basis to allow me to focus on community issues.

What do you like the best about living in Huddersfield?

I have enjoyed living here for the last 13 years. It is a really friendly place and I have made lots of good friends and feel part of the community.
I like living here because there are green spaces to walk and enjoy the views but also access to the town for eating out, entertainment and shopping.

What do we need to do to improve the local area?

Outgoing Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner with Sue
It’s all about doing the best for our community, providing better access to the town for walkers and cyclists so that people feel safer; it would also encourage people to improve their health and wellbeing along with better public transport. As well as having the added benefit of improving air quality.  Hopefully you’ll meet me on the free Green Party bus over the Christmas holiday period. I’d love to see Newsome free of fly-tipping, litter and graffiti.

I am keen to see area along our local rivers a new park area come to fruition. There are some really active organisations like River Holme Connection and Greenstreams that I will be working alongside in the coming months. Oh and World Peace and an end to pot holes!

Why do you want to be a councillor?

I think Huddersfield is a great place to live, it has real character and while it has its issues like many towns, such as empty shops on the High Street there are some potentially helpful plans in the pipeline to give the town a new lease of life.  If I become a councillor I look forward to being fully engaged in making those plans a reality. That, and of course ensuring that the community maintains effective healthcare services. We have to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary including the vital Accident and Emergency services.

Cllrs Andrew Cooper and Karen Allison with Sue.
Why the Green Party?

The Green Party is the one that encourages its members to work for a fairer society that is more community focused. They most closely match my belief in local democracy that works with and for its residents.

What do you do when you’re not involved in the community campaigning?

In my spare time I enjoy going to the local events, gardening and reading crime fiction. I am aspiring to create a bee friendly garden, but this is still in the development stage.