Saturday, 15 August 2020

Standing for the nomination as Green Party Candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor

 Councillor Andrew Cooper - Candidate statement

I am a Kirklees Green Party Councillor and have been for the last 21 years. I have been elected and re-elected 6 times. During that time I have gained a wealth of experience as a Cabinet Member, Scrutiny Panel Chair and as a Leader of the Green Party Group. We have held balance of power and so have managed to implement a number of Green Party policies including the UK’s first universally free insulation scheme and what is effectively a ban on Fracking in our Local Plan.

I have lead on the Green Party response to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Devolution Consultation writing, collating and integrating responses from members. The response highlighted the lack of focus on climate change, the lack of accountability of the proposed Elected Mayor and the threat to local democracy posed by the Mayoral Combined Authority. The full response can be viewed here. https://clrandrewcooper.blogspot.com/2020/07/yorkshire-and-humber-green-party.html

In my Campaign to be the first Green Mayor of West Yorkshire I will focus on Jobs, Homes and Climate Change

Green Jobs

Over 5 years I will seek to generate and influence the creation of 100,000 new Green jobs. In line with the landmark Campaign against Climate Change report. These jobs will be in renewable energy, sustainable construction, retrofit of buildings, establishing new public transport and active travel networks and through promoting rich natural environments in and around our communities.

Green Homes

I will campaign hard to have the ‘right to buy’ Council Housing suspended in West Yorkshire to protect valuable social housing and to help the business case for investment in more Council housing. This will also act as a check on house prices at the lower end on the market.

I will establish a Green Building Fund that all Local Authorities in West Yorkshire can access to support the development of homes and other buildings to the Passivhaus standard. This will reduce carbon emissions, energy bills and fuel poverty.

I will establish a new retrofit fund to improve the energy performance of existing homes, targeting those on the lowest incomes and seeking to draw in matched funding from energy companies and central government.

Tackling Climate Change

One of my first jobs in office would be to boost the ambition of our plan to deliver a Zero Carbon Economy. This would aim to bring the target date for a Zero Carbon Economy forward from 2038 to 2030 in line with the recommendations of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I will cease all new road building projects and any project that supports the expansion of Leeds/Bradford Airport.

I will work with green industries on a plan to boost our renewable energy generation capacity across all appropriate technologies and seeking to support community owned and managed renewable energy projects.

A Green Team for West Yorkshire

If elected as Green Party nominee for West Yorkshire Mayor I will invite the second placed Candidate to be the named Deputy mayoral candidate. Normally Labour Mayors simply appoint them after and election.


Friday, 14 August 2020

The Housing and Planning Bill we should have had

 The Conservative Government’s proposals in the Business and Planning Bill have been justly criticised for being far too developer friendly to the detriment of the local environment, climate change, housing standards and local democracy. It panders to the interests of the big builders and not those of millions of people who need low cost, secure housing with low living costs.

 So what would an alternative look like that addressed these issues and made things better rather than worse? Here’s some thoughts.

A National Planning Policy Planning Framework that acknowledges the Climate Emergency

A principal issue is that the National Planning Policy Framework NPPF which all Local Plans have to comply with gives a greater emphasis on development above environmental concerns. Since the NPPF came into law we have had Councils and Parliament declaring a climate emergency in response to the warning from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have to get our emissions under control by 2030. So the NPPF needs revising swiftly to reflect the urgency of the climate emergency and allow Local Councils to revise their Local Plans accordingly. One immediate effect might be to stop the allocation of land for development on flood plains and in absence of sufficiently robust energy efficiency standards the ability to set higher ones locally.

Building Council Housing a new national priority and an end to the 'Right to Buy'

Another priority needs to be a renaissance in social housing and council housing in particular. Property ownership is neither a viable nor desirable option for millions. The diminishing stock of council houses has meant that it has become poverty housing for those in the direst of circumstances. We have to end the ‘Right to Buy’ for tenants of council homes. The implicit assumption of the policy is that owner occupation is somehow preferable to council housing. We need to recognise that social housing is a social good with low rent, security of tenure and upkeep the responsibility of the landlord. If supply of council housing were plentiful than it would be a check on rising house prices and a viable alternative for people looking for a home. To make investment in new council housing stack up the Right to Buy with the generous discounts on the value should cease immediately. This would bolster the business case for council housing by filling the hole in the revenue bucket, preventing the loss of housing stock and giving councils the confidence to build at scale.

Zero Carbon Homes now!

In the Business and Planning Bill the Conservatives announced that we would be building Zero Carbon homes in the UK by 2050. Utterly scandalous. We can build Zero Carbon housing now and we would have done if, the then Chancellor, George Osborne hadn’t cancelled the policy back in 2015.

A reasonable timeframe would be 3 years to get the housing industry to be geared up to deliver low emission passivhaus standard housing. Passivhaus is a quality assured method of building to a standard that delivers very low energy demand buildings making homes more affordable and healthier to live in.

Protect the green belt and end land banking

Councils are encouraged by Government to reconsider the designation of green belt land to boost land for potential development. Given excessive demands from Government to boost the supply of land for development some Councils have diminished the amount of land with greenbelt status. Threatening the green belt is completely unnecessary as developers are sitting on planning permissions for a million homes. In fact we should tax developers punitively for not developing on land that they have been granted permission to develop.

Abolish Private Sector Building Control

Perversely there is a competitive market in companies that developers can use to determine whether or not their buildings conform with Building Regulations. One thing we do know is that in reality many homes and other buildings use far more energy than we would expect if they had been built in accordance with Building Regulations. The suspicion is that developers have cut corners, built sub-standard housing and paid a private Building Control company to sign off their developments. Hence the performance gap. It is bizarre that private companies can pay another private company to decide whether or not they have complied with the law. It must stop and Building Control should be purely a public sector function resting with Local Authorities.

Well that's what you could have had.


Sunday, 19 July 2020

Yorkshire and Humber Green Party Response to the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal


Yorkshire and Humber Green Party Response to the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal


Question 1

Do you agree or disagree with our proposals for the revised arrangements for the Combined Authority, as set out above and in the Scheme, in particular the proposed arrangements for a Mayor, Mayoral Combined  Authority, and the councils, working together?

Strongly Disagree

This is not real devolution.

The Elected Mayor does not represent real devolution. It is simply replacing a remote Westminster politican with a remote individual who is supposed to represent 2.3 million people which they cannot. When mayoral models have been put before local people in referenda before they have rejected. Now it is proposed to impose a Mayor on West Yorkshire without a referendum.

The Mayoral Combined Authority – Some members are more equal than others

The proposed West Yorkshire Combined Authority will have 11 members. 5 of these members will most likely be the Leaders of the constituent Councils. These will be Councillors who have been elected by the unfair first past the post electoral system unlike the WYCA mayor. Having members of the same body elected by different electoral systems is bizarre and perverse. The proposed 3 additional members will also be Councillors elected under the first past the post system but these places will be allocated on the basis of the number of Councillors in political groups on the constituent councils not on the basis of popular share of the vote. We believe that West Yorkshire should have an Assembly like the GLA in London elected by Proportional Representation. If it is good enough for London why not West Yorkshire?

The 3 additional constituent council members on the Mayoral Combined Authority appointed for political balance should be referred to as “Second Class Members” as their support is not required to pass the Mayor’s Spatial Development Strategy, the designation of land for a Mayoral Combined Authority Area, the compulsory purchase of land, decisions that could incur a financial liability on a constituent council or any matter pertaining to the Mayoral Combined Authority’s Constitution. Using the same logic the 5 members appointed by each constituent Council should be referred to as “Premier Class Members” as their support is required to approve the above matters.

All Councillors need to be represented on the Mayoral Combined Authority

Over 8% of elected Councillors in West Yorkshire are from parties other than Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. All these Councillors are members of the LGA Independent Group. Current proposals would mean that these Councillors and the communities they represent would have no representation at all on the Mayoral Combined Authority. Provision should be made on the board to represent all groupings represented by LGA Political Groups including the LGA Independent Group which consists of Independent and Green Party Councillors. We propose an additional member for political balance to ensure Councillors who are members of the LGA Independent Group, and therefore the people who vote for them, are represented.

The proposals for 2 Deputy Mayors are undemocratic

The proposal for the Mayor to be able to simply appoint 2 paid Deputies is undemocratic and will most likely be given to ‘Party worthies’ as a form of patronage. If it follows the model of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner the Deputy Mayors positions will attract an allowance of at least £50k/year with no democratic mandate. The Leader of Kirklees Council has stated at a Kirklees Scrutiny meeting that a Deputy Mayor position will be taken by a Leader of one of the Constituent Councils. There is no reference to this in the Governance Review document.

Mayoral Compulsory Purchase and Development Area powers should need approval of a meeting of the constituent Full Council

The Mayor will have the power to compulsory purchase land within each Combined Authority area and set up Mayoral Development areas. Before any of these powers are put into effect they should require the approval of a vote in Full Council in the constituent Council affected.
As with the Compulsory Purchase powers we strongly believe that proposals to establish a Mayoral Development area should also require Full Council approval.

If London can have the GLA why can’t West Yorkshire have an elected assembly?

It is not at all clear that powers will not be taken away from Councils and given to the Mayoral Combined Authority - the exact opposite of devolution.
It is our view, for Devolution to work in this area it needs to have a representational assembly elected by proportional representation to cover the whole Yorkshire region with similar powers to those of the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly. Yorkshire has a population somewhat greater than Scotland, and significantly larger that Wales. What’s good enough for Scotland & Wales is good enough for Yorkshire.

Specific Governance proposals

·       Allocation of places to be based on LGA Groups - Greens and Independent councillors would all fall under the LGA Independent Grouping rather than being treated as small parties or individuals.

·       There should be 4 balancing members on the Mayoral Combined Authority. This would create a more balanced authority giving 10 voting members. 4 balancing members would currently result in 2 Conservative, 1 Lib-Dem and 1 LGA Independent Group members.

·       Equal voting rights for all Mayoral Combined Authority members on all matters not reserved to the Mayor. The proposed structure creates 3 classes of voting member.  There is no justification for the Mayor and the balancing members to be excluded from key decisions, and there should be only 1 class of voting member on Combined Authority decisions.

·       In the absence of an Elected Assembly there should be all member assembly from the constituent councils for key decisions - As far as possible all elected members should be involved in the decisions that will shape and determine our shared future.

Question 2
Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer transport functions and new transport related functions to a West Yorkshire Mayor and mayoral combined authority?

Disagree

Additional Transport funding should simply be passed down to each constituent Council

While we would welcome some of the potential powers that would be granted to the Elected Mayor in relation to Public Transport and access to funding, we believe that Government should simply devolve this funding and powers to the Local Authorities without requiring the establishment of a new undemocratic Mayoral Authority.

Transport funding should not be used to support higher carbon emissions

The Key Route Network proposed could involve the establishment of new roads encouraging car use and destroying valued green corridors. This would also be inconsistent with WYCA’s commitment to have a zero carbon economy by 2038. It might be noted that while WYCA have stated a target of 2038, Leeds City Council, via a motion of Council, set a target date of 2030 – We believe that within the boundary of Leeds the Elected Mayor, if brought in, should implement the Zero-Carbon economy by the 2030 date.


We would oppose the use of funding on any projects that would enable expansion at Leeds Bradford Airport by the Mayor and the Mayoral Combined Authority. Any such funding would be contrary to reaching Zero-Carbon.
We acknowledge that delivering a mass transit system has long been the plan for Leeds City Region, and aligns with the move towards becoming Zero Carbon. However, the need to progress at pace to achieve modal transport shifts in order for Leeds to reach its Zero Carbon target of 2030 may require the mass transit system ambition to be revisited. Funding is needed now to develop an effective and responsive bus system, the means for all transport to be Zero Carbon and to greatly increase active travel. Planning for low carbon transport is no longer good enough; travel needs to be Zero Carbon, and this must include ensuring that the electricity for electric vehicles is generated from renewable sources. We welcome the plans for improvements at Leeds city station as long as the modal shift is to Zero Carbon transport.

Question 3

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer skills and employment functions to a West Yorkshire mayoral combined authority?

Agree with some reservations

While we would argue that Adult Education – lifelong learning – is about more than those outcomes linked to employability and the minor extensions into Community Learning covered by the current AEB, the question asks only about the current system.

We are conscious that levels of participation in the Yorkshire & the Humber region in the forms of Adult Education covered by the AEB at 30%, are only just above the lowest level nationally (29% in the South West)

There is a concern about the unpredictability of funding levels, which have seen a 45% fall over the last ten years. Clearly if the mayoral region is to plan for provision in the long term it needs assurance that funding will reflect levels of commitment made and increase at the very least to cover the inflationary costs.

We are conscious that the administrative and procurement processes that have operated at a national level have shown great weaknesses that have undermined provider confidence. We would want to see devolution of the budget linked to the power to simplify rules, make required outcomes clearer and support provider confidence. The devolution of the budget has promise, but only if the administration can be simplified and made more transparent. If devolution is to mean anything it must include devolution of decision making about the outcomes wanted in the region.

The region as a whole, and the West Yorkshire region in particular have great potential in building the new green economic order that is needed. There is a strong skills base that can be built on in the provision of training, and this development should take place not just in the context of the 2038 Zero carbon Agenda target of the WYCA, but also reflect local commitments, such as those in Leeds to a 2030 target.

As such we would favour further devolution of the budget to the five constituent authorities of the sub-region and not just to the WY mayor, and for the opportunity for lifelong learning to become an offer that is available very locally, for example from community centres or schools.

Question 4

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer housing and planning functions to a West Yorkshire Mayor and mayoral combined authority?

Disagree

Planning decisions should be taken at a local level

We do not support the granting of any land assembly or planning powers to the Elected Mayor, these should be held by the appropriate Local Authority, as those councillors have the local knowledge to be able to make these decisions. Clearly, it is our view if this function were to be granted to the Elected Mayor and, we note that the local authority will have a veto, we would like to put in the safeguard that any decision taken by the Elected Mayor in this area should have to be endorsed by both the Executive Board and a meeting of the full Council of that particular metropolitan authority.

The Mayoral Combined Authority should be able to suspend the ‘Right to Buy’

One function we would like devolved to a local level is the power to suspend the Right to Buy scheme. We have seen a massive reduction in Council Housing at a time of high demand for income particularly for the millions left behind in the policy push over the last 40 years towards home ownership. Not everybody can own a home and we need a secure affordable option for the millions who cannot.  Suspending or preferably abolishing the Right to Buy would boost the business case for Councils wanting to build new affordable homes.

The power we need is to insist on higher energy efficiency standards for buildings

The Mayor will not have powers to insist on higher building standards in the region such as Passivhaus for all new build. This would be compatible with WYCA’s stated commitment to a Zero Carbon Economy by 2038 but is a power that we won’t have.

We need a 2030 Target for the West Yorkshire Zero Carbon Economy

We strongly believe that the Mayoral Combined Authority should set a new, more ambitious target for a Zero Carbon Economy by 2030 in line with the conclusions of the report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This would help support our argument for stronger housing and planning policies either at the local or regional level.

Question 5

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer Police and Crime Commissioner functions to a West Yorkshire Mayor?

Strongly oppose

Police and Crime functions are even more unaccountable under the Mayoral Combined Authority.

The appointment of a highly paid, unelected Deputy Mayor to lead on the Policing function, however, just makes matters worse.  It will undoubtedly put an unelected politician in a role where the people scrutinising them will have a democratic mandate (albeit through FPTP), but they will not.

Question 6

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer additional finance functions on a West Yorkshire Mayor and mayoral combined authority?

Strongly oppose

No taxation without adequate representation and scrutiny.

Our opposition to these additional powers is due to the lack of a suitable democratic mandate as we have detailed in our answer to question 1 and/or the lack of suitable scrutiny and powers to limit the powers of the Mayor by a democratically elected Assembly.
The power to charge a precept for policing would mean that the funding gained could be the responsibility of an unelected functionary and or ‘Party Worthy’.

Question 7

Are there any comments you would like to make that you do not feel you have addressed in your response?

What about the challenge of Climate Change?

The West Yorkshire Authorities Governance Review document highlights the major challenges to the sub region. It includes growth, productivity, diversity, innovation and trade but Climate Change is not identified as a challenge bizarrely. The self-declared target of having a Zero Carbon Economy in just 18 years’ time is a significant challenge but it is concerning that it has not been included here. For the record the Green Party believes that our target should be 2030 not 2038 in line with the evidence from climate scientists.

What about a resilient economy?

Another significant challenge highlighted by the COVID19 crisis is the need for a resilient economy that is less affected by global factors such as international trade, the money markets and financial speculation.

A more resilient economy would have an emphasis on local production for local need, more locally owned and managed businesses trading with each other ensuring money remains within the regional economy. This is not identified as a significant challenge and therefore cannot be regarded as a priority by the Mayoral Combined Authority. This is a major weakness in the Governance Review Document

A Devolution Deal for a Post-COVID/Post-Growth World

The proposed devolution deal was prepared in the pre-COVID world, and therefore it will need significant rethinking in order to align with the new normal that individuals, businesses, communities, councils, regions and nations are now preparing for. Recently 200 leading UK businesses, investors and business networks, called on the Government to deliver a Covid-19 recovery plan that builds back a more inclusive, stronger and more resilient UK economy that aligns with the UK's wider social, environmental and climate goals. There is no mention here of economic growth. More and more people with vision are realising that growing an economy is at odds with tackling climate change. What we can have instead is a strong, vibrant, inclusive and sustainable economy and that should be the vision that underpins the devolution deal. We have an opportunity here in West Yorkshire to be leaders in this new green recovery world.

In view of this, the metrics used for making the 5 year Gateway Assessments on which ongoing funding may depend cannot be based on economic growth, but on other measurements of a vibrant economy. In the new COVID 19 world economic growth may be a thing of the past anyway. In particular decisions must not be made in order to meet the Gateway Assessments that will reduce the capacity of Leeds to meet the Climate Emergency commitments.

Let’s have Real Devolution not Faux Devolution

In our view this is only partial devolution to, effectively, an elected dictatorship, and not a proper democratic body. The area covered, the County of West Yorkshire, is a failed concept of the early 1970’s and does not cover the economic footprint of the Leeds City Region. To have real devolution we need an Assembly and First Minister with powers similar to those granted to Wales, and Scotland, but based upon the region of Yorkshire. The proposal states that this agreement is the first step in the process to further devolution, therefore a Yorkshire Assembly should be seen as the assumed next step, which should be included in this devolution agreement. Devolution for Yorkshire has wide support, including in the Sheffield City Region where referendums held in Barnsley and Doncaster, indicated an overwhelming preference for a One Yorkshire deal over the South Yorkshire deal.

Devolution that acknowledges the Climate Crisis

On October 8 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report, in which they stated that ‘Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.’ Other parts of the report state that ‘With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society’. We are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes. The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.’ It is already widely acknowledged that the UK’s zero carbon target of 2050 will not achieve the limiting of global warming required, which is why councils around the UK have committed to achieve zero carbon much sooner.

So it is within the context of the Climate Emergency that West Yorkshire now has the opportunity, through devolution, to set truly ambitious plans to lead this country in a green economic recovery from the COVID pandemic, a recovery that will achieve the challenging but necessary zero carbon targets that have been set. This will require public support, and that can only be achieved through the democratic processes and structures that are outlined in our response.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

PRESS RELEASE Green Councillor proposes making Government Insulation scheme free to all.

Green Councillor proposes making Government Insulation scheme free to all.

The Government has announced a scheme to start in September that would provide grants of up to £5000 for insulation work on peoples homes but still leaving them to find a third of the costs
Kirklees Councillor and Green Party Energy Spokesperson Andrew Cooper has proposed making the scheme free to boost the take up by householders, ensure quality work is carried out and so help reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions.
Councillor Cooper said
"This scheme falls well short of the Green Party's proposal for a Green New Deal in terms of funding and scope but there are still positive things we can do to improve the scheme announced by the Chancellor."
“When Kirklees ran the free Kirklees Warm Zone project between 2007 and 2011 we insulated over 50,000 homes and it was the biggest scheme of its kind in the country. What really made the scheme fly was the Green Party amendment to the 2007 Council Budget  that made the scheme free for all applicants. This is what we should be doing with this scheme.”
“With the cost of capital borrowing so low at present the Council can use its financial leverage to top up the Government proposal ensuring people don’t have to dip into their pockets during a time of recession and job losses. Really the Government should make the scheme free but in the absence of that Councils like Kirklees and across the Country could fill the gap and make the difference. Existing funding via Regional Sources such as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority could also play a big role in financing such a scheme ”
“For householders the hundreds they will save oon their energy bills  means more money in their pockets at a time of huge financial uncertainty. The impact on reducing our carbon emissions will also be significant,”
“The involvement of local councils in the scheme will help with local promotion and also provide local accountability helping ensure quality of work”
“ This level of funding could allow us to carry out insulation work on hard to treat cavity walls, provide external wall insulation, attic room and under floor insulation. It is a huge opportunity if done properly wih a focus on quality work.”
“ Kirklees has the opportunity once again to be a national Leader in action on Climate Change and show through example what can be achieved with imagination and political commitment. If other Councils follow our lead we could make the scheme free for millions across the UK. “


Sunday, 14 June 2020

DRAFT Yorkshire and Humber Green Party Response to WY Devolution Deal


DRAFT Yorkshire and Humber Green Party Response to WY Devolution Deal

Question 1

Do you agree or disagree with our proposals for the revised arrangements for the Combined Authority, as set out above and in the Scheme, in particular the proposed arrangements for a Mayor, Mayoral Combined  Authority, and the councils, working together?

Strongly Disagree

This is not real devolution.

The Elected Mayor does not represent real devolution. It is simply replacing a remote Westminster politican with a remote individual who is supposed to represent millions of people which they cannot. When mayoral models have been put before local people in referenda before they have rejected. Now it is proposed to impose a Mayor on West Yorkshire without a referendum.

The Mayoral Combined Authority – Some members are more equal than others

The proposed West Yorkshire Combined Authority will have 11 members. 5 of these members will most likely be the Leaders of the constituent Councils. These will be Councillors who have been elected by the unfair first past the post electoral system unlike the WYCA mayor. Having members of the same body elected by different electoral systems is bizarre and perverse. The 3 additional members will also be Councillors elected under the first past the post system but these places will be allocated on the basis of the number of Councillors in political groups on the constituent councils not on the basis of popular share of the vote. We believe that West Yorkshire should have an Assembly like the GLA in London elected by Proportional Representation. If it is good enough for London why not West Yorkshire?

The 3 additional constituent council members on the Mayoral Combined Authority appointed for political balance should be referred to as “Second Class Members” as their support is not required to pass the Mayor’s Spatial Development Strategy, the designation of land for a Mayoral Combined Authority Area, the compulsory purchase of land, decisions that could incur a financial liability on a constituent council or any matter pertaining to the Mayoral Combined Authority’s Constitution. Using the same logic the 5 members appointed by each constituent Council should be referred to as “Premier Class Members” as their support is required to approve the above matters.

All Councillors need to be represented on the Mayoral Combined Authority

Over 8% of elected Councillors in West Yorkshire are from parties other than Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. All these Councillors are members of the LGA Independent Group. Current proposals would mean that these Councillors and the communities they represent would have no representation at all on the Mayoral Combined Authority. Provision should be made on the board to represent all groupings represented by LGA Political Groups including the LGA Independent Group which consists of Independent and Green Party Councillors. We propose an additional member for political balance to ensure Councillors who are members of the LGA Independent Group, and therefore the people who vote for them, are represented.

The proposals for 2 Deputy Mayors are undemocratic

The proposal for the Mayor to be able to simply appoint a 2 Paid Deputies is undemocratic and will most likely be given to ‘Party worthies’ as a form of patronage. If it follows the model of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner the Deputy Mayors positions will attract an allowance of at least £50’000/year with no democratic mandate. The Leader of Kirklees Council has stated at a Kirklees Scrutiny meeting that a Deputy Mayor position will be taken by a Leader of one of the Constituent Councils. There is no reference to this in the Governance Review.

Mayoral Compulsory Purchase and Development Area powers should need approval of a meeting of the constituent Full Council

The Mayor will have the power to compulsory purchase land within each Combined Authority area and set up Mayoral Development areas. Before any of these powers are put into effect they should require the approval of a vote in Full Council in the constituent Council affected.

As with the Compulsory Purchase powers we strongly believe that proposals to establish a Mayoral Development area should also require Full Council approval.

 Question 2

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer transport functions and new transport related functions to a West Yorkshire Mayor and mayoral combined authority?

Disagree

Additional Transport funding should simply be passed down to each Constitutent Council

Government should simply devolve the additional funding for transport related functions to Local Authorities anyway without requiring the establishment of a new undemocratic Mayoral Authority.

Transport funding should not be used to support higher carbon emissions

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is currently proposing the use of funding for transport functions to support the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. This is inconsistent with the Zero Carbon Agenda the Authority is currently signed up to. We would need a commitment from the Mayoral Combined Authority to not fund transport projects that increase carbon emissions when we should be reducing them.  

The Key Route Network proposed could involve the establishment of new roads encouraging car use and destroying valued green corridors. This would also be inconsistent with WYCA’s commitment to have a zero carbon economy by 2038.

 Question 3

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer skills and employment functions to a West Yorkshire mayoral combined authority?

Neither agree nor disagree

The important thing to recognise here is that this is not new money and the Mayoral Combined Authority will have no control over the amount of money invested in West Yorkshire for skills and employment functions.

We strongly believe that the funding that is passed down from central government should play a key role in supporting the skills needed for the Zero Carbon Economy Agenda.

Question 4

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer housing and planning functions to a West Yorkshire Mayor and mayoral combined authority?

Disagree

Planning decisions should be taken at a local level

We believe that planning decisions are best taken at a local level not by a remote Mayoral Combined Authority and as such we would want any planning decisions to require the support of the Planning Authority of the relevant constituent Council and be put before them for debate and decision.

The Mayoral Combined Authority should be able to suspend the ‘Right to Buy’

One function we would like devolved to a local level is the power to suspend the Right to Buy scheme. We have seen a massive reduction in Council Housing at a time of high demand for income particularly for the millions left behind in the policy push over the last 40 years towards home ownership. Not everybody can own a home and we need a secure affordable option for the millions who cannot.  Suspending or preferably abolishing the Right to Buy would boost the business case for Councils wanting to build new affordable homes.

The power we need is to insist on higher energy efficiency standards for buildings

The Mayor will not have powers to insist on higher building standards in the region such as Passivhaus for all new build. This would be compatible with WYCA’s stated commitment to a Zero Carbon Economy by 2038 but is a power that we won’t have.

We need a 2030 Target for the West Yorkshire Zero Carbon Economy

We strongly believe that the Mayoral Combined Authority should set a new, more ambitious target for a Zero Carbon Economy by 2030 in line with report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Repor . This would help support our argument for stronger housing and planning policies either at the local or regional level.

Question 5

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer Police and Crime Commissioner functions to a West Yorkshire Mayor?

Strongly oppose

Police and Crime functions are even more unaccountable under the Mayoral Combined Authority.

The abolition of the Police and Crime Commissioner role is a positive in that it is a role that has not excited interested the electorate and takes away from rather than adds to local democratic accountability of the Police. The appointment of a highly paid unelected Deputy Mayor to lead on the Policing function however just makes matters worse and will undoubtedly put an unelected politician in a role where the people scrutinising them will have a democratic mandate (albeit through FPTP) but they will not.

 Question 6

Do you support or oppose this proposal to confer additional finance functions on a West Yorkshire Mayor and mayoral combined authority?

Strongly oppose

No taxation without adequate representation and scrutiny.

Our opposition to these additional powers is due to the lack of a suitable democratic mandate as we have detailed in our answer to question 1 and the lack of suitable scrutiny and powers to limit the powers of the Mayor by a democratically elected Assembly.

The power to charge a precept for policing would mean that the funding gained could be the responsibility of an unelected functionary.

Question 7

Are there any comments you would like to make that you do not feel you have addressed in your response?

What about the challenge of Climate Change?

The West Yorkshire Authorities Governance Review document highlights the major challenges to the sub region. It includes growth, productivity, diversity, innovation and trade but Climate Change is not identified as a challenge bizarrely. The self-declared target of having a Zero Carbon Economy in just 18 years time is a significant challenge but it is concerning that it has not been included here. For the record the Green Party believes that our target should be 2030 not 2038 in line with the evidence from climate scientists.

What about a resilient economy?

Another significant challenge highlighted by the COVID19 crisis is the need for a resilient economy that is less affected by global factors such as international trade, the money markets and financial speculation.

A more resilient economy would have an emphasis on local production for local need, more locally owned and managed businesses trading with each other ensuring money remains within the regional economy. This is not identified as a significant challenge and therefore cannot be regarded as a priority by the Mayoral Combined Authority. This is a major weakness in the Governance Review Document

 

 


Saturday, 9 May 2020

Time to press the reset button on all we know.

"Normal life" is on hold. 

For many of us the 'pause' button has been pressed on all we know. The all consuming,  news dominating B word 'Brexit' has been replaced with the C-word 'Corona' or 'Covid19'.  The physical places where we once came together as a society, where we met, collaborated, planned and had a darned good time on occasion, are all closed. Workplaces, cafes, restaurants, pubs, churches, mosques, temples, schools are all empty. The treadmill of everyday life  has stopped for the first time in generations. The machine has stopped. We can't simply start it again without asking some serious questions about what is important to us.

It is a time to reflect, to think about the things that we value and all that we want to see changed for the better.

We have relied on the Public and voluntary sectors like never before. They are valued like never before and so is what they can do to protect us and provide for our everyday needs. This is something the private sector simply cannot and would never match.

The NHS's future has to be secured, but it has got to go way beyond the warm words that all politicians say. Those who supported a market of NHS services need to reflect on whether the likes of Richard Branson have any place making a profit from our health services.

A positive out of this awful situation is the benefit to our local and global environment. The "engines of death" no longer leave their trails across the sky as planes are grounded at airports,o ur roads are uncongested and cycling has become a much safer option. The air is cleaner than ever before with the knock on benefit to climate change and public health.

Millions have discovered the joys of video conferencing apps for meetings, conferences or even simply meeting up with friends for a drink. That will not disappear when lockdown ceases. The need to travel and meet face to face will be much less.

Our sense of community has grown. People have been confined to their homes largely and many have helped their more vulnerable neighbours through difficult times. The Thursday night clapping rituals for the NHS have brought many together as never before.

With local government and the NHS having been at the forefront of the fight against COVID 19 there can be no return to austerity economics. Boris Johnson professes to have opposed Conservative austerity (but there is  little evidence for that in his voting record). So now we have  ensure that the vision we have for a clean environment, a more equal society and one that has support for community at the heart of its thinking is supported by the economic choices we make.

So now we must provide the space for a public debate on the future for the UK so we can press the reset button on all we know and have a new consensus about the better future that can be achieved for us all.





Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Parish Greens promote local walks during Covid 19 crisis

Councillor David Knight
Kirkburton Parish Green Councillors David Knight and Clare Walters are promoting 10 local walking routes  around the Parish. The Kirkburton Parish Walks maps were first produced around 6 years ago and feature 10 walks around the villages of Kirkburton. For added interest the maps have local photographs, illustrations and poems to keep young children entertained.


Along each of the 10 routes is a stone waymarker sculpted by former Parish Councillor and Shepley resident Dave Bradbury.
Councillor David Knight said,
“It’s so important to avoid unnecessary trips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have all heard the stories of people driving miles to the Lake District and the Dales against official advice. 
Councillor Clare Walters said,
Cllr Clare Walters
"Having local walks to enjoy from your doorstep means people can get their daily exercise without having to travel2 
These 10 routes take you through scenic countryside and introduce local landmarks and historic characters. 
The great thing is that the maps  are available to download or print online at www.kirkburtonparishwalks.co.uk

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Newsome Ward - E-Green News – Coronavirus special – Please share!

Normally we would be out delivering our newsletters several times a year to the 7,500 households around Huddersfield that make up the Newsome Ward. Obviously with social distancing and efforts to limit the spread of the virus mass leafleting of literature is not advised. So  we have produced an e-newslettter. Please share it widely among people you know in the Newsome Ward either by Messenger, Email, Facebook or Twitter. We want to keep in touch with as many people as possible.
If you want to be added to our newsletter mailing list please email andrew.cooper@kirklees.gov.uk with your name address and email address.
Cllr Andrew Cooper with other Party Leaders
All Kirklees Parties working together in crisis

The Coronavirus crisis means Kirklees Council is having to maintain many essential services like bin collections, adult and children’s social care,  schools for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. While many Council meetings have been suspended Kirklees Leaders from all party groups are coming together each week (virtually) with the Council’s Chief Executive on the Public Health Emergency Advisory Group to work together on addressing the crisis. Councillor Andrew Cooper as Green Party Leader is represented on the group,

“ It is inspiring to see political differences being put aside for the common good and it would be good to see this sort of positive working together  continue beyond this crisis. It’s vital that we know from local people how their day- to- day lives could be improved and problems they may be having  that we can help with and so I can feed this into these meetings.”

Coronavirus Crisis – What help do you need?   
£50’000 for Community Action

Kirklees has provided £50k for each of the Council's 23 Wards to help communities deal with issues related to the current Coronavirus Crisis.
Kirklees Green Party Leader and Newsome Ward Councillor Andrew Cooper said,
"This funding provided by the Council at this most difficult of time is very welcome. What Newsome Councillors want to do is get people to give us their ideas. The sort of ideas we are looking for are things that help morale in the community, provide support to vulnerable people  and ensure that we come out of the crisis with local businesses intact. The funding is not limitless but I'm keen to harness the power of local people to help us through this public health emergency. I and my Newsome Ward colleagues have been impressed by the willingness of people to help their neighbours in this most unprecedented of circumstances. These are the people who can see needs that may not be being met and the things that may make life a little better. "

3 month rent holiday for Kirklees Business Tenants

Kirklees Council has announced it will be giving a 3 month rent holiday to its commercial tenants.
Councillor Andrew Cooper said,
" I proposed this 3 month rent holiday to ensure small Independent businesses like retailers, pubs, cafes and restaurants survive this crisis intact. We will need them to bring life back to our town centres and I am urging other councils around the country to follow Kirklees lead".
"There is now a challenge to commercial landlords of Huddersfield town centre businesses. If councils can do what is right to protect the longer-term interests of our local economy so should you. A 3 month rent holiday for your tenants now could well ensure they are your tenants in the future."
  
Local litter-picking  

Getting out and about is limited at the moment but Cllrs Karen Allison and Sue Lee-Richards have been out around where they live litter-picking their local areas cleaning up their own neighbourhoods as part of their Government approved exercise time.
Cllr Sue Lee-Richards said,
“This is something we can all do to improve our local area. It doesn’t take long and with so many of us limited about how far we can go it makes it even more important that the places around where we live are as pleasant as possible.”
Councillors meeting virtually

Green Councillors meet regularly each week but with social distancing rules in force this has to be virtually.
Cllr Karen Allison said, “It has worked really well. We share information we have picked up about local concerns and issues, see how we can help with funding local projects and keep on top of local casework which hasn’t gone away during the Lockdown. We have had Council officers join us for meetings when we have needed them and it has gone better than I expected.”

“Please be our eyes and ears”
Green Councillors ask local people to survey their streets for issues.
Councillor Andrew Cooper has asked local people to let him know of issues and concerns on their street during the crisis
“It’s not as easy or justifiable for us to be out on the streets as much as we would like so I’m appealing to local people to let us know what issues need dealing with on their street. The sort of thing we are looking for is potholes, blocked drains, street lights that aren’t working and large accumulations of litter and fly tipping. Giving us location information e.g. which house, street light number the issue is near is vital as well as photos of the problem”.
Please send to any of your local Councillors.

Help exercising for older & younger people in their own homes

Pilates Instructor Lynne Ellis of Almondbury recently extended her classes to include those who need a more gentle form of exercise by converting her sessions to be done on a chair. This was particularly popular with older people wanting to keep active and healthy. These classes ran in Community Halls and were sponsored by Kirklees to help those with less mobility keep in shape.  The sessions had become really popular bringing the community together, tackling loneliness and improving health.
Then the Coronavirus stopped all group activity!
Newsome Green Councillor Andrew Cooper contacted Lynne and suggested using ZOOM, a video conferencing app, to keep her Pilates sessions going virtually. 

Councillor Cooper said,

“I’m so pleased Lynne’s classes are going so well and that she is able to help so many people stay active even when they are confined to their homes for much of the day. The exercise will not just make people physically healthier but mentally stronger as well by having valuable social time with friends, sharing a fun experience. Who knows I might give it a try!”
Lynne runs six sessions a week, two for those who are looking for a more gentle exercise, exercising from a chair, two for Beginners to Pilates who may wish to learn or who just want to keep toned and in shape, and 2 sessions of the more Advanced/Intermediate sessions for those who really want to work their bodies and have done Pilates/exercise in the past. Membership is just £20 a calendar month and gives access to 2 sessions per week.
For more information email Lynne - lynneel@icloud.com

Volunteer? Or need help?

The Coronavirus lockdown has seen many people in our community at their best. Local people have come forward and offered their help to the more vulnerable and elderly. It has been really inspiring. Kirklees Council has been coordinating offers of help and seeking to link those offers to the people who need it.
To volunteer of to ask for help ring the Kirklees on 01484 226919 OR follow the link below https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/advice-support-and-sharing/covid-19-community-response.aspx


Help from the Kirklees Citizen Advice Bureau

Advice from the Kirklees Citizen Advice Bureau is being delivered by staff working from home who will need to call/email clients back.
            Website www.kcalc.org.uk  direct link https://kcalc.org.uk/contact-us/  (online form)
            Telephone: 0344 848 970 – this will go through to Citizens Advice call centre who can pass details back to us. Though contacting online is the key

Specialist services:
There are full details of services on the website www.kcalc.org.uk
Services can be accessed as above and enquiries will be passed through to specialist teams as appropriate.
            Debt
            Housing (they are focusing resources on homelessness – general/other housing queries should be directed to Fusion Housing) – direct contact telephone 01924 663541
            Community Care
            Discrimination
            Asylum (ONLY – i.e. NOT other immigration advice)
            EU Settlement Scheme
            Employment – direct advice number 01924 868147

Report domestic abuse (from www.gov.uk)

Domestic abuse or violence is a crime and should be reported to the police - there are also other organisations who can offer you help and support.
Call 999 if it’s an emergency or you’re in immediate danger.
The police take domestic violence seriously and will be able to help and protect you.
Contact your local neighbourhood policing team if it’s not an emergency on 101

Other organisations who can help

Pennine Domestic Abuse Partnership
0800 052 7222    https://pdap.co.uk/
Kirklees & Calderdale Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre
01484 450040    https://www.kcrasac.co.uk/
Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge
0808 200 0247                 www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people)
0800 999 5428                 www.galop.org.uk
Men’s Advice Line         
0808 801 0327                 www.mensadviceline.org.uk

Rape Crisis (England and Wales)
0808 802 9999                 www.rapecrisis.org.uk
Respect phoneline
0808 802 4040                 www.respectphoneline.org.uk

Community Facebook Groups

Newsome Green Party
Newsome Community Ward Forum
Lockwood &Thornton Lodge COVID-19 Support
Berry Brow Community Action - Covid-19 Crisis
Newsome Community Kindness
Taylor Hill Matters 
armitage bridge neighbourhood watch scheme

Councillor Contact Details


Cllr Andrew Cooper
Mobile - 07721 348619
@clrandrewcooper
Blog – clrandrewcooper.blogspot.co.uk

Cllr Sue Lee-Richards
07976 681354
@sueLeerichards1

Cllr Karen Allison
07816 759868
@greenpartykaren