Monthly Archives: September 2013

Text of letters sent to Valleys to Coast and Wales & West Housing Associations re Bedroom Tax

Dear XXX HA,

 

 

 

We would be grateful if you could provide the following information:

 

 

 

1: What measures have XXX taken to engage with financially vulnerable tenants around Bedroom Tax related arrears?

 

 

 

2: Has XXX sought to engage with Welsh Government and other social landlords, either individually or through the auspices of Community Housing Cymru, to mitigate the impact of the ‘spare room subsidy’?

 

 

 

3: Has XXX sought to cooperate with Bridgend County Council to manage appeals and discretionary housing payments payments? Does V2C intend to undertake any further initiatives to assist tenants who cannot reasonably cover the additional cost?

 

 

 

4: Does XXX intend to use Ground 8 to evict tenants who amass arrears representing in excess of two months rent?

 

 

 

5: In light of the Fife ruling (http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/why-the-fife-bedroom-tax-judgments-are-even-better-news-for-landlords-and-councils-than-for-tenants/) does XXX intend to reclassify any of its existing stock?

 

 

 

We would be delighted to meet to discuss any or all of these points.

 

 

 

 

 

Mooncup Green Party Conference offer

The Mooncup featured in one of the very first articles on this blog – it has proven popular with some local members – so perhaps it is time to remind you of its benefits

https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/the-mooncup-healthier-much-better-for-the-environment-and-saves-you-money-too-2/

The Mooncup is the original silicone menstrual cup designed by women to be a convenient, safe and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary pads. Loved by women all around the world, and made in the UK by a multi-award winning ethical business, the Mooncup menstrual cup offers an end to the waste, discomfort and expense of disposable sanitary protection.

Safer

Made from soft medical grade silicone, the Mooncup is latex-free and contains no dyes, BPA, toxins or bleaches. It’s also great for women with sensitive skin.

Tampons can cause dryness and leave fibres behind. The Mooncup is designed to respect your natural balance.

Greener

On average, one woman will use over 11,000 tampons or pads in their lifetime, which will end up in landfill or in the sea.

Cheaper

One woman uses up to 22 items of sanitary protection every period. Regardless of your flow, you only need one Mooncup, and it lasts for years and years, making it the most economical sanitary product you can buy.

For a limited period (excuse the pun) order from http://www.mooncup.co.uk/ and use promotional code GREENBRIGHTON2013 to get £5 off.

Ecosocialism 2013 one day confernce

9:00 – 1700, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS.

1800 till late, social with bands and comedy at a Venue tbc.

A conference which aims to share practical ideas for action, in order to help better promote green, socialist alternatives to austerity, neo-liberalism and the environmental destruction caused by Capitalism at every level, and to help build a bigger and broader Ecosocialist movement nationally and internationally in the process.

Ideas for action on:

Climate Change, Extreme Energy & Our Alternatives
Building an economy for the 99% Practical solutions on a local level

What type of democracy do we need?
Next Steps to an Ecosocialist future internationally

More info: http://ecosocialism2013.org

Conference review Autumn 2013

Having just returned from the Green Party Autumn Conference in Brighton, I would like to reflect on some of the highlights and key moments for me.

One of the ways in which the Green Party is unique in UK politics is that all the Party’s policies are debated and passed by the democratic vote of party members at Conference. With a broad range of people within the Party, this makes for lively debate and some largely healthy controversy. It can also lead to some occasional contradictions.

Contradictions within the constitution and standing orders meant that my conference got off to a lively start at the GPRC and SOC Report workshops. The contradictions within the disciplinary processes had allowed GPRC to expel Cardiff member Anne Greagsby for her alleged defamatory accusations against Wales Green Party Leader, Pippa Bartolotti. The problem is that the provisions for a tribunal within the constitution had not been used. SOC therefore deemed the expulsion unconstitutional – and this was ratified by Conference accepting the SOC report. Where this leaves the whole unseemly mess remains unclear at this stage, but natural justice would seem to demand that Anne be re-instated, but perhaps remain suspended, until such time as due process is carried out.

After this rather depressing start, Natalie Bennett’s opening speech was, thankfully, appropriately rousing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUGN-NVD_FT_Kyv_VdUxzc7A&v=mc50KVL0QJs

This was followed by a workshop on one of my pet topics – Education. I spoke in support of a review of Education policy in the face of Gove’s comprehensive reshaping of the education landscape, and the need to be more explicit about the Comprehensive vision that I have spoken and written about for many years now. (See the education chapter of my book) It was also pleasing to hear my visions of a truly Comprehensive education system being advocated by the headline speaker at a panel meeting on Free Schools – Tony Benn’s daughter, Melissa Benn. Unforunately, the motion fell – being squeezed into the last 5 minutes of a session and failing to get a proper debate – I was frustrated at not getting chance to speak! C’est la vie. http://melissabenn.com/campaigning/

So endeth day one – to be followed with a fish and chip supper and copious amounts of Brighton’s local ales in the company of Green Left friends and colleagues. Doug and I battled through the stormy weather to the crash pad at midnight and settled down before the deluge of Young Left – and some not so young – crashed in at 2pm. Simon Hales ensured a fitful night due to his extraordinary bursts of snoring that sounded like the death throes of a water buffalo! It was nearly the death throes of a watermelon!

Which brings to one of the more extraordinary aspects of this Conference. A couple of people went out of their way to distribute their anti- Green Left rants in print. One went under the name of a new Green Party forum, wittily entitled “The Kiwi & Lime” – playing on the name Green Left’s established ‘Watermelon’ conference magazine. It is unclear who the author, who appears to want to go by the moniker of Guru Nick, is targeting. His front page asks “Who are the people that may trouble the Kiwi & Lime supporter?” It proceeds to anticipate trouble from the right and the left!! Perhaps his apparent dislike of most people explains why he seems more obsessed with animal rights than human rights. In fact, the most trouble he found was with plenary session Chairs, several of whom had to shut him up for his inane ramblings. All very entertaining!

If this attack on Green Left was impossible to take seriously, Mike Shone’s effort was far from funny. He appears to want to shut down criticism of some of Brighton Council’s decisions and paint Green Left as ‘wilfully distorting’ things and ‘self-serving misrepresentation’. Serious, some would say defamatory, allegations. And I have already pointed out how seriously GPRC takes defamation! And if this were not bad enough, Shone had gone to the trouble of printing his vitriol in an 8 page A4 booklet that had 3 completely blank page, a near empty front cover, with 4 pages of well-spaced large font (size 18?). A shocking waste of paper, even if you regard him sharing his thoughts in this manner as a worthwhile exercise. This flagrant wastefulness alone deserves some form of censure.

Mike Shone was conspicuously absent from the well-attended Green Left fringe meeting on Saturday evening. He may have found cause to retract if he had. The meeting was attended by a group of Brighton Councillors, clearly at odds with the Kitcat administration to to point of clear and obvious distress. There was also a local anti-cuts activist (not in any political party) who painted a very poignant picture of the impact of Brighton Council’s decisions to date. She acknowledged that these had been modest to date – if you can call taking £3 a week Council Tax off people with barely £12 a week for food and transport modest. Given that any ‘efficiency savings’ have now been used up, the budget for next year will be a crucial watershed for all concerned. Whether Shone likes it or not – it is clear that it is not only Green Left members that are a little short of trust in Kitcat doing the right thing. It includes people a lot closer to things than him.

For me, the Green Left fringe was the highlight of the whole conference. It gave me real insight into the Brihgton situation and pause for thought as to what our priorities should really be, and despite the overt criticism, makes me even more committed to the principles that Green Left believe in.

Plenaries over the weekend saw important policy decisions being ratified – to nationalise the railways; to take steps towards eradicating debt-based money supply and fractional reserve banking; to do what we can to remove the threat of land grabs by big corporations around the world; important improvements to our mental health policy;and the banning advertising targeted at children. There were emergency motions condemning the badger cull; condemning the bedroom tax; condemning the PO sell -off; and reaffirming our steadfast opposition to fracking. The most important organisational decisions were probably regarding having two deputy leaders in future and adding a Trade Union Liaison Officer to GPEx.

Saturday night involved more beer and conviviality followed by another Simon Hales snorefest. This isn’t Simon, but if you turn your volume up full you will be getting an idea: http://youtube.com/w/?v=LtBQARqeK9M

I started Sunday with that hardy perennial of controversial issues at the “Population matters – or does it?” fringe meeting. This, you may recall was the one Ann Were urged us from Wales to attend due to the strong Wales involvement. This amounted to Ann Were chairing and Cardiff’s Seb Power being the panellist attempting to take on PM’s Roger Martin. Seb gave it his best shot, but it was an uneven contest in terms of numbers in the audience and the efficacy of the arguments presented. He made some basic errors such as presenting lots of incontrovertible scientific facts, but claiming they proved a hypothesis to which they were completely unconnected. As soon as he realised he was losing the argument, he reverted to specious claims of racism and staring at the ceiling. He is smart enough to learn and come again – but he needs to realise that the issue is not quite as black and white as he thinks it is. (Damn, that’s not a racist pun, is it?)

Maintaining the Welsh involvement, next up was Pippa’s Wales Leader’s speech. After what happened in Nottingham, rumours abounded that Pippa had bottled it and wanted someone else to deliver it (Chris Were and Natalie Bennett were mooted), but Pippa is made of sterner stuff than that and gave it a good go – sticking to safe ground and themes largely covered in the other set piece speeches. I am pretty sure, however, that it didn’t mention Wales at all and it is little wonder that there continue to be questions from senior party members about the merits of its position on the timetable. It may well be asked to make way for target region lead MEP candidates next conference (which doesn’t include Wales, just in case you were wondering).

This emerged in the Elections Committee meeting that Ann Were and I attended. This revealed that we are not as far behind other regions in getting our Euro campaign together as I thought – but did also offer to good ideas in terms of messaging and priorities. It will allow me to take the initiative in the absence of any useful support from the Wales Election Officer to date. This will be further helped having attended Mark Cridge’s excellent digital campaigning fringe. I have a long ‘to do’ list!

I final catch up with people like Romayne Phoenix; claiming my now traditional raffle prize off Pete Murry; and a final meal with the Green Party’s version of Sarah Millican – the multi-faceted and very funny Iris Ryder – and I was on my way home.

I am looking forward to the next one already.

Bridgend Against the Bedroom Tax

The inaugural meeting was held last night with Bridgend Greens and Plaid Cymru to the fore. Probably a bit too left wing for local Labour people.

Jamie Insole is an excellent co-ordinator for similar groups across South wales and along with seasoned campaigner, Len Arthur (PAAA) we had a productive meeting agreeing targets areas and strategy. I expect Bridgend Greens to be to the fore as the main target area will be Bettws – an area we know well and have excellent activists in (take a bow Gareth and Delyth!)

I will be meeting up them and booking a date in the Life Centre for a public meeting in early October.

Given the UN housing expert’s perspective (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/11/bedroom-tax-should-be-axed-says-un-investigator) and Labours failure to commit to reversing atrocious policy if they ever get back in power, it is clearly time for us to take a stand. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AO-91baVvHI

We will be inviting the UN Rapporteur at the centre of the controversy to visit South Wales on her next visit.

Watch this for updates and what you can do to help.

Andy Chyba.

DECC Press release: More Ed Davey nonsense: “UK shale gas development will not be at expense of climate change targets”

The latest garbage from Ed Davey. The big Ifs in the red sentences, do of course, make the rest of what he says utterly pointless.

“Environmentally friendly” fracking!! Oxymoron, or just plain moron?

“With the right safeguards in place”!! Is this Davey saying there will be NO fugitive emissions? Is he saying that the gas burned will be instead of Coal, rather than in addition to coal?

As for the infographics, the first one is pathetic and the second has the nasty small print that the encouragingly strict seismic trigger to stop fracking is subject to review and is likely to change.

Andy C

DECC Press release: Davey: UK shale gas development will not be at expense of climate change targets

09 September 2013

Secretary of State, Edward Davey, today made the case for the safe and responsible exploration of shale gas in the UK, in line with the UK’s climate change targets. In a speech to the Royal Society, Davey said that if shale gas could be developed in an economically viable and environmentally friendly way, it would benefit the UK – increasing energy security, providing more jobs and tax revenues.

Davey was responding to the findings of a new report which estimates that the carbon footprint of UK produced shale gas would likely be significantly less than coal and also lower than imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The report by DECC Chief Scientific Advisor Professor David Mackay FRS and Dr Timothy Stone, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, assesses the potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the production of shale gas in the UK and the compatibility of such emissions with the UK’s legislated climate change targets.

With the right safeguards in place, the report concludes, the net effect on GHG emissions from shale gas production in the UK will be relatively small. In order to ensure that global cumulative GHG emissions to the atmosphere do not increase, worldwide shale gas production needs to be accompanied by additional international emissions-reduction efforts, including a global deal on emissions reductions and additional effort to develop low-carbon technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, (CCS).

Bridgend CBC’s Labour administration qualify for Unite’s Zero Hours Contracts Hall of Shame

Bridgend CBC logo

A zero hours plague is gripping workers across the UK, the union says. It is estimated that at least one million people have no fixed income or fixed hours by which to plan their lives.

But with the growth of franchising and the encouragement to workers to declare themselves ‘self-employed’ by employers, the union fears that the true figure for precarious working could be even higher.

Click here to get involved with the campaign:http://www.unitetheunion.org/campaigning/saynotozerohourscontracts/

Where Unite are going to be disappointed is in hoping “Labour can cure the zero hours plague”. No chance.

The Glamorgan Gazette reports this week that Labour-controlled Bridgend County Borough Council has 490 of its workers (they don’t have sufficient rights to really consider themselves employees) on precarious contracts – with absolutely no security or any guaranteed hours from one week to the next.

Unite therefore need to amend the graphic above to put Bridgend CBC into this Hall of Shame. The Bridgend total is bigger than some of those featured in the campaign already.

The Green Party would have these exploitative contracts banned.

MEP vote on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive on Wednesday – amendments on shale gas and other unconventional hydrocarbons – MEPs need to be reminded to right thing !

THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE:

Letter to MEPs EIA Dir Plenary vote_Sept 2013_FINAL.doc

The letter attached above needs to be copied and pasted into emails, amending and sending to the 4 Welsh MEPs as a matter of urgency as the vote is in three days time. You could also deliver to the office address and telephone too for good measure given the timescale and the importance of getting the message across. Use both email addresses where given. (Add your address details as eviddnce that yoiu are a constituent, thereby giving them one less excuse to ignore you!)

Labours’s Derek Vaughan’s contact details:
4th Floor

Transport House

1 Cathedral Road

Cardiff

CF11 9SD

Tel: 029 20 227660
E-mail: E-mail: contact@derekvaughanmep.org.uk
derek.vaughan@europarl.europa.eu

Conservative Kay Swinburne’s contact details:
Kay Swinburne MEP
Rhumney House
Copse Walk
Cardiff Gate Business Park
Cardiff
CF23 8RB
Tel: 029 2054 0895
kayswinburnemep@welshconservatives.com
kay.swinburne@europarl.europa.eu

Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans’ contact details:
Jill Evans MEP
45 Gelligaled Road
Ystrad
Rhondda Cynon Taf
CF41 7RQ
T: 01443 441395
jill.evans@ep.europa.eu

UKIP’s John Bufton’s contact details:
UKIP Wales,
1 Caspian Point,
Cardiff CF10 4DQ
jbufton@ukipwales.org
john.bufton@europarl.europa.eu

As a point of information, in last November’s vote on a Europe-wide moratorium on fracking, as we would expect, the tories and UKIP MEPs towed their party’s official lines and voted against the moratorium. In now typical Labour Party dithering, their MEPs voted all over the place, not knowing whether to vote with the S&D block that was in favour of the moratorium, or to follow the typical right wing leanings of the Labour Party in the UK. Derek Vaughan ended up rebelling against the S&D block and betraying Wales to the frackers, and voting against the moratorium (one of just 18 out
of 170 to do so). This means just Jill Evans got it right! (PC are part of the Green/EFA group)

Full details of that vote are here: http://www.votewatch.eu/en/environmental-impacts-of-shale-gas-and-shale-oil-extraction-activities-motion-for-a-resolution-after.html#/##vote-tabs-list-1

So most of our attention should be on pressurising Derek Vaughan to get it right this time. Bufton and Swinburne are both probably hopeless cases, but need telling nonetheless. Put a word of praise into anything you send to Jill Evans – and encourage her to do the right thing again.

Chrystia Freeland (Canadian Liberal): Crony capitalism and the rise of the new global super-rich

Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds — and so is economic inequality, says writer Chrystia Freeland. In an impassioned talk, she charts the rise of a new class of plutocrats (those who are extremely powerful because they are extremely wealthy), and suggests that crony capitalism, globalization and new technology are actually fueling, rather than closing, the global income gap. Freeland lays out three problems with plutocracy … and one glimmer of hope.

In “Plutocrats,” Chrystia Freeland explores the growing gap between the working poor and the increasingly disconnected mega-rich.

Thought-provoking stuff.