Letters to the press in 2013

We should introduce 20mph on side streets

First published Tuesday 24 December 2013 in Letters

SIR – Many people in Battenhall have told me that they would like a 20mph limit in their street.

So full credit to the Warndon councillors (Worcester News, December 16) for agreeing to a trial of a 20mph speed limit on their side roads. But why limit the trial to Warndon?

To reclaim the streets for children, pedestrians and cyclists and to reduce congestion, we should be introducing the 20mph limit on all residential side streets throughout the city now.

If we can get the average speed of cars down it will make walking and cycling safer.

Fewer cats and dogs will be run over and Worcester's more elderly residents will be able to cross the roads more easily. Traditionally our children used to walk or cycle to school.

Reducing the speed of cars on side roads and providing safe crossings on the main roads could start to encourage parents to give their children more independence and so allow them to get more exercise and so reduce the obesity epidemic.

Everyone benefits – fewer cars used in the school run will reduce congestion for car drivers.

LOUIS STEPHEN

Worcester Green Party

Boris admires those still rich in recession

First published Friday 6 December 2013 in Letters

SIR – With reference to Boris Johnson's comment about the living wage ("It is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too"), which you quoted in a recent editorial.

Sadly, as evidenced in the annual Margaret Thatcher lecture that he delivered last month, Mr Johnson is in fact content for the financial crisis to be exploited so that the gap between rich and poor increases.

Whilst the welfare state is dismantled, public services are privatised, and half a million people use food banks to survive, he expresses admiration for the wealthy few who caused, and continue to benefit from, the crisis.

Under the banner of austerity, and aided by the corporate press, his friends in the government demonise welfare claimants, disabled people and immigrants in order to distract us from challenging a corrupt and increasingly undemocratic system.

As George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian on November 11: 'The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy.

In reality they belong on the inside.

They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy...where, beyond the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, and a few ageing Labour backbenchers, is the political resistance?'

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Cameron's statement was shocking

First published Tuesday 5 November 2013 in Letters

SIR – On October 28, David Cameron said that the Government is likely to act to stop newspapers publishing what he has called damaging leaks from former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden unless they "demonstrate some social responsibility".

Putting aside questions about Mr Cameron's understanding of social responsibility, isn't it shocking that he has made such a statement in a country that tells itself it has press freedoms?

Edward Snowden exposed a secret surveillance programme that targeted millions of ordinary citizens as well as heads of state – why would David Cameron want to punish newspapers for highlighting this fact?

Neil Laurenson

Worcester Green Party

We risk paying over the odds for our waste

First published Tuesday 5 November 2013 in Letters

SIR – At a meeting of Worcester City Council's scrutiny committee on October 30, it was said within the context of a discussion about food waste that the proposed incinerator at Hartlebury is "universally accepted".

Regular readers of these letters pages will know that this is simply not true.

We risk paying massively over the odds for our waste.

Treating food waste through anaerobic digestion currently costs about £40 per tonne compared with about £80 to landfill and about £130 if incinerated.

Within the next few years, councils are likely to be paid to take food waste due to the potential to create energy from anaerobic digestion.

Indeed, it was stated in the Local Government Association report titled 'Wealth from Waste' published last June that 'burning (waste) is still expensive; recycling actually brings in cash for the taxpayer'.

According to the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), separate food waste collections can save local authorities millions on the cost of disposal.

Evidence also shows that weekly food waste collections are popular with local residents.

A study by Icaro Consulting found that households who had a weekly food waste collection awarded the service 7.9/10 and a 2011 Friends of the Earth study found that 82 per cent of residents who had a food waste collection supported the service.

NEIL LAURENSON

Green Party Councillor St Stephen ward

We need to harness our wind resources

First published Wednesday 30 October 2013 in Letters

SIR – I believe that press and political coverage of the latest energy price hike is largely missing the point.

Quite rightly, people are angry about how energy bills are rising ahead of inflation.

However, just £47 of the green subsidy – £112 out of an average £1,267 annual bill – goes towards helping disadvantaged people to insulate their homes.

Insulation cuts the amount of gas burnt to warm a house.

A kilowatt hour of wind or hydro power also cuts the amount of gas burnt to warm a house.

Our problem is the gas.

It is a finite shrinking supply that will continue to get more expensive.

Wind, solar and hydro will last for millions of years.

Britain has the best wind resource in Europe – all we have to do is harness it.

JUSTIN KIRBY

Worcester Green Party

Government making a costly U-turn

First published Tuesday 29 October 2013 in Letters

SIR – The Prime Minister has blamed higher bills on measures to invest in green energy and energy efficiency.

According to the Government's own Climate Change Committee, set up to provide independent guidance, of a typical householder's rise of £520 between 2004-2012, £35 is due to low-carbon support with another £45 for energy efficiency.

The main reason families are paying more is the increasing wholesale price of gas, which is expected to rise by 40 per cent over the next few decades.

The best thing we could do to cut bills in the long term would be to move away from gas and invest seriously in renewables.

Nuclear power is also increasingly expensive yet the Government is happy for bill payers to fund a lavish subsidy for EDF.

By contrast, renewable technologies have seen dramatic price falls over the past few years.

If the Government really wants to help families struggling with bills they should put in place measures to insulate homes up and down the country.

This could be funded by a windfall tax, and would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

LOUIS STEPHEN

Worcester Green Party

Tougher enforcement needed on smokers

First published Wednesday 16 October 2013 in Letters

SIR – Tom Edwards recently reported on a council meeting that discussed people dropping litter on our city streets.

It costs a fortune to pick up the litter – money that we can ill afford to waste.

But far worse in my eyes than litter is the commonplace attitude that it is OK to drop cigarette butts and chewing gum.

Things move on – 30 years ago, people would not have worried too much about letting their dog defecate on a pavement. Although by no means perfect, it is much better now and most responsible dog owners pick up their dog's mess.

Clearly this issue does need better enforcement, but it is no good non-smokers simply lecturing on this.

I believe that the answer is a combination of tougher enforcement and encouraging responsible smokers to say something to other smokers whenever they see a butt being dropped.

Let's make dropping a cigarette butt as anti-social as leaving dog mess on the pavement.

Louis Stephen

Worcester Green Party

Keep the Royal Mail in public hands

First published Monday 30 September 2013 in Letters

SIR – The Green Party supports the campaign to keep the Royal Mail in public hands. A recent Sunday Times poll found that 70 per cent of the public are opposed to the privatisation of the Royal Mail, which made £403 million profit in the year to April 2013.

This is money that is funding our NHS and schools. The privatisation of Royal Mail is likely to worsen staff pay and conditions and cuts to services.

The Green Party supports the Communication Workers Union's industrial and political fight against the sell-off.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

I was disappointed in way our MPs voted

First published Monday 9 September 2013 in Letters

SIR – It was disappointing to read in the Worcester News (August 31) that MPs across Worcestershire voted for the 'principle' of military action in Syria.

The Prime Minister claimed that Syria needs to be bombed to deter the use of chemical weapons, but this would be illegal without UN endorsement, as well as hypocritical.

As Max Hastings wrote in the Daily Mail: "It is naive to suppose that sarin gas is any worse for its victims than napalm, cluster bombs, Agent Orange defoliant or white phosphorous, widely used by the Western powers in their wars since 1945."

One could also mention the use of depleted uranium that has caused an epidemic of deformed births in Iraq.

It is nauseating to hear government ministers pretend to be concerned about the people of Syria, given their previous indifference to suffering in the region and their constant claims that cuts must be made to welfare in this country.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

We have to fight this food poverty

First published Monday 2 September 2013 in Letters

SIR – The Green Party agrees with letter writer N Taylor (Worcester News, August 16) on the need to address higher food prices.

Part of Euro MP candidate for the Green Party Will Duckworth's point 'It's a scandal that we need food banks' (Worcester News, July 30) was that an era of more expensive food is exactly the wrong time to push hundreds of thousands into poverty with savage cuts to benefits.

Greens want less supermarket control of the food chain and more community-owned farms (such as Fordhall Farm in Shropshire or Five Acre Farm, near Coventry).

We need more urban space given up to growing food.

Urbivore in Stoke-on-Trent is a very interesting project that we could bring to Worcester.

It is offering jobless young people accredited apprenticeships through selling locally grown affordable fruit and veg.

And internationally, Greens want to end speculation by hedge funds and other financial institutions on food.

What we need to do is fight social inequality and food poverty at the same time.

LOUIS STEPHEN

Worcester Green Party

We are in crisis, but it's not immigration

First published Wednesday 21 August 2013 in Letters

SIR – Re Kevin Drinkwater's letter that "the number of immigrants coming into this country seem to have priority in the housing market"

(Worcester News, August 9) and letter writer N Taylor's comment that the Government is "preferentially housing foreigners instead of our own" (Worcester News, August 13).

The Green Party MEP Keith Taylor wrote last April that "according to David Aaronovitch, of The Times, only 11 per cent of new migrants have been allocated social housing, compared with 17 per cent of UK-born residents living in this sector.

With nine out of 10 new migrants not moving into social housing, governments can't seriously blame immigration for our housing crisis."

As Mr [Keith] Taylor also writes, the country is indeed facing a crisis, but it's not an immigration crisis: "The vast majority of people living here, whether they were born in the UK or elsewhere, are paying the price for a crisis which they had no part in causing.

"Wages are stagnating, benefits are being cut and enough houses aren't being built.

"It's time to... refocus our anger on the financial system which caused the crisis and the cuts consensus in Westminster that is only making things worse."

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Here's an idea. Let's share out resources

First published Wednesday 7 August 2013 in Letters

SIR – Is continuous year-onyear growth in our economy such a good thing?

Surely a little growth is okay. Like compound interest on a savings account, compound year on year growth of just three per cent results in a doubling of of output every 24 years.

On a finite planet can we really sustain a doubling of output on each and every generation?

The alternative is to create a steady state economy where the resources are shared out more fairly.

LOUIS STEPHEN

Worcester Green Party

The incinerator plan simply is not green

First published Wednesday 31 July 2013 in Letters

SIR – Councillor Adrian Hardman said that the proposed incinerator at Hartlebury is "the greenest way to go" (Worcester News, July 9).

In the Worcester News (January 28, 2011) he said: "I am determined that we in this county council have a look at the feasibility of us producing large amounts of green energy... "This will be beneficial not only for the county but also for the taxpayers..."

The incinerator is certainly not 'green' and it is unlikely to benefit taxpayers if it costs a billion pounds, as has been predicted based on the cost of incinerators elsewhere in the country.

Burning our waste will cost £136 per tonne compared with £72 for landfill and £40 for anaerobic digestion and composting.

As I have said before, we're being pulled towards an incinerator that is nowhere near best value, particularly as none of the heat generated will be used.

Indeed, I am not the only one contradicting Coun Hardman's claims – in the Local Government Association's waste review titled 'Wealth from Waste', Coun Mike Jones wrote that "burning (waste) is still expensive; recycling actually brings in cash for the taxpayer and we owe it to today's hard-pressed taxpayers to get as much of their money back as possible."

The fact that the incinerator will not be good value for money may be the reason why fellow councillors have only been given one day to look at the detailed costs before voting for or against the incinerator in September.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Green Party councillor for St Stephen division

Secret surveillance is the real betrayal

First published Friday 19 July 2013 in Letters

SIR – In his letter of July 5, Will Richards doubted that Edward Snowden risked his career by divulging malpractice.

The journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote that Mr Snowden 'gave up his life of career stability and economic prosperity, living with his long-time girlfriend in Hawaii, in order to inform his fellow citizens (both in America and around the world) of what the US government and its allies are doing to them and their privacy'.

On the same day as Mr Richards' letter, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said that Mr Snowden had clearly acted as a whistleblower, exposing in the PRISM and Tempora programmes what the EU Justice Commissioner has identified as breaches of what should be 'mutual trust and good practices in relations between friends and allies'.

She added that 'European states owe him a debt for exposing the action that the US was taking against them'.

Indeed, if anyone is to be accused of betraying their country, surely it should be those who are responsible for conducting a secret surveillance programme that targets ordinary citizens.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Phillpott was right to criticise Tony Blair

First published Tuesday 16 July 2013 in Letters

SIR – I cannot recall the BBC referring to 'genocide' in Iraq, as John Phillpott did in the Worcester News on June 22 in relation to 'the Blair government's lies'.

Nor do I recall the BBC referring to the genocide that preceded the illegal invasion.

Denis Halliday, former United Nations coordinator of humanitarian aid for Iraq, resigned from his position in 1998 to protest the impact of UN-imposed sanctions, which each month, over a period of 13 years, killed 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of five.

He said in an interview in 1999: 'When the programme that we have there, producing these results, is a deliberate, active programme... I think it's a programme of genocide. I just don't have a better word."

John Phillpott is right to criticise Tony Blair, though his predecessor, John Major, has a lot to answer for too.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Our health service should remain public

First published Thursday 11 July 2013 in Letters

SIR – Before the 2010 general election, David Cameron promised there would beno more top-down reorganisations of the NHS, yet the Healthand Social Care Act came into effect last April.

It allows private companies to bid for NHS services, though I have been told by Robin Walker MP that "there will be no privatisation of the NHS under this government".

Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said in a speech on March 21 that "the market will determine how care will be provided based on profits".

Our NHS should remain public and care should be based on need.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

I didn't have any offers from the Tories

First published Tuesday 18 June 2013 in Letters

SIR – Re the Source column by Tom Edwards (Worcester News, June 7). I may have accepted an offer from the Conservatives to discuss policy if such an offer had been made. In any case, I have had a year to learn about their policies as a member of the council.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

We should always have time for good manners

First published Thursday 23 May 2013 in Letters

SIR – It was refreshing to read that Robin Walker MP will work with politicians of all parties to ensure the best outcome for Worcester (Worcester News, May 16).

It is typical of his good nature that he sent Councillor [Adrian] Gregson a note of congratulations and offered to work together "where possible".

As I said in a previous letter (Worcester News, April 26), in my experience, residents are less bothered about which party you belong to than how hard you work on their behalf.

We all have our own definition of what is best for Worcester and the country as a whole, but one thing we can surely all agree on is the value of good manners.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester

We have the policies people do really want

First published Wednesday 22 May 2013 in Letters

SIR – Out of 332,237 people surveyed in the Vote for Policies survey before the last election, where people voted on policies alone (not parties or personalities), more than 24 per cent – more than any other party – chose Green policies.

The last time people had a chance to vote in elections under proportional representation (the Euro elections of 2009) the Greens won more than a million votes, demonstrating again the growing support for action on the Green agenda.

Even the World Bank is now telling us that without urgent and radical cuts in emissions, global temperatures will rise by 4C or more by the end of the century, resulting in "devastating" environmental impacts for all of us.

The case for political action has never been clearer.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

It's how hard you work that counts

First published Friday 26 April 2013 in Letters

SIR – As a fellow member of Worcester Against The Cuts,I can vouch for Lynn Denham's passion for defending our NHS against cuts and privatisation (Worcester News, April 23).

I share her motivation for being a councillor – "speaking up for people, making their voice heard and achieving change for the better".

In my experience, residents are less bothered about which party you belong to than how hard you work on their behalf.

Indeed,I believe that it was our work ethic that led to our first council seat in Worcester last year, and will hopefully lead to more success in the county council elections on May 2.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

It's the 'real economy' that needs our focus

First published Monday 8 April 2013 in Letters

SIR – People are tired of living off benefits and struggling, tired of workfare and short-term contracts, and tired of training places that lead nowhere.

Since the start of the crisis, the Bank of England has printed £350 billion in new money, but it hasn't caused banks to lend to the 'real economy'.

The Government needs to lend money directly to small and start-up businesses to create work for people in Worcester who have been made redundant, and for graduates across the West Midlands who are coming out of education with no jobs.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

There's no doubt the Iraq war was illegal

First published Friday 5 April 2013 in Letters

SIR – In his Source column (Worcester News, March 22), Tom Edwards wrote of Councillor Mike Charles that "he considers" the war in Iraq to be illegal.

A lot of people consider the war to be illegal because it is.

For example, when she resigned at the start of the war, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a Foreign Office lawyer, wrote that "an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression", one of the "crimes against peace" for which Nazis were hanged at Nuremberg.

As the American prosecutor at Nuremberg said, starting a war for any reason other than self-defence is "not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole".

There is no doubt that the war in Iraq – which has led to possibly one million deaths and four million refugees – is illegal.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

The solution is to find people proper jobs

First published Thursday 4 April 2013 in Letters

SIR – In February, the Court of Appeal ruled against the Government on its welfare-to-work scheme, under which more than 230,000 jobseekers had been illegally forced to work for organisations such as Poundland for no pay.

They were entitled to make claims for money they were owed, but the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill, which was approved on March 19, will effectively reverse the Court of Appeal’s decision in order to avoid paying for these claims, which would have cost the Government more than £130 million.

Owen Jones, writing in The Independent, quoted the think-tank Civitas: “The precedent is a terrifying threat to civil liberty… “The entire concept of ‘Rule of Law’ is undermined as soon as the Government starts to cover its back like this.”

Caroline Lucas, former leader of the Green Party, said: “In a fair society, the solution to unemployment is not to force people into workfare programmes, which do little more than supply big companies with free labour.

“It’s to create jobs that pay a living wage, for example, by investing in new sustainable infrastructure projects and boosting the jobs-rich low carbon economy.”

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Why increase the costs of waste budget?

First published Wednesday 3 April 2013 in Letters

SIR – In the Worcester News on March 21, it was reported that councillor Marcus Hart has advised residents not to burn their waste.

In the following day’s edition, Councillor Anthony Blagg was quoted in an article titled, “We’re ‘taxed’ £9.8 million for rubbish” which suggested “we need” the proposed incinerator at Hartlebury, which would burn huge amounts of waste and cause the problems that Councillor Hart describes.

At a time when Worcestershire County Council is making cuts of £100 million to public services, why do they intend to increase the cost of the waste budget to fund an incinerator which could cost over £1 billion?

On March 21 the Gloucestershire incinerator plans were unanimously thrown out by councillors.

As the chairman of a local parish council said at the meeting: “There are much cheaper options than this incinerator... residents are fearful for their health and their children’s health. The incinerator is not needed. It is a white elephant.”

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party 

Let’s get behind our green industries

First published Tuesday 2 April 2013 in Letters

SIR – The Government is willing to gift yet more tax breaks to companies drilling for hard-to-reach shale – a costly gamble that risks keeping the UK addicted to polluting fossil fuels at precisely the time we should be leaving them in the ground.

If it really cared about bringing energy bills under control and improving energy security, it would put its money on renewables, where the costs are predictable and falling.

The UK’s green economy is now worth more than £120 billion – nine per cent of GDP – and provides nearly a million jobs.

According to the CBI, it is generating a third of our most recent economic growth.

Given the huge potential of green industries and clean energy generation to provide jobs and prosperity, as well as the obvious environmental benefits they will deliver, it’s time to drop austerity.

There’s no doubt that the cuts have failed – now we need urgent investment in nationwide green infrastructure to stabilise the economy, tackle the environmental crisis and deliver clean and secure energy for the future.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

There’s so much more Chancellor could do

First published Tuesday 2 April 2013 in Letters

SIR – Over the past three years, banks have cut loans to high street shops by more than 18 per cent.

Greens wanted to see George Osborne use his Budget to force high street banks to lend to small businesses.

He could have ensured all new large retail developments include spaces for small local businesses.

He could have supported more ‘buy local’ schemes.

The Chancellor could also have given more powers to local authorities, so Green councillors could prevent chain stores taking over independent shops, and to control the saturation of certain business types such as betting shops and payday loan companies.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

Too much power has been given to Europe

First published Monday 18 March 2013 in Letters

SIR – I believe that John Phillpott is trying to bracket Green Party policy with the largely pro-European New Labour policies on Europe. (Worcester News, March 2).

As he should know from our previous correspondence on this subject with this paper through the letters page, we recognise the value of the original post-Second World War goal to remove the threat of another war between European states.

However, we believe that these goals have been distorted by vested political and economic interests into a union dominated by economic interests, which lacks democratic control, and which promotes the goals of multinational corporations rather than people.

For the record, we believe that far too much power has already been given away to Europe. We have never been a supporter of the euro single currency and firmly believe that there should have been a UK-wide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

The Green Party is also committed to reforming the common agricultural and fishing policies that so often waste our money, food and resources.

LOUIS STEPHEN 

Worcester Green Party 

Have the other Tory councils got it wrong?

First published Thursday 14 March 2013 in Letters

SIR – In response to Councillor [Chris] Mitchell’s criticism of Labour and the Green Party for supporting a lower-than-inflation rise in council tax to protect jobs and services (Worcester News, March 4).

According to a Daily Telegraph article on February 14, 65 councils were proposing to increase council tax, more than half of which were Conservative-led.

Recently, members of the ruling Conservative group on Cornwall Council resigned from the party following a freeze in council tax, with one being quoted as saying that “I won’t buy votes by doing something I think is wrong”.

Council tax benefit reform will result in councils across the country demanding increased payments from the 3.2 million poorest workingage households who due to their personal circumstances currently pay either no council tax or a reduced charge.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Arrange a litter pick? Then get in touch

First published Thursday 28 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – I would like to publicly thank the city council’s cleaner and greener department for responding to residents’ requests for bins to be installed and providing equipment for a recent litter pick around Wordsworth Avenue and Perdiswell Park.

I would encourage residents in St Stephen ward to get in touch if they know of any other potential sites for bins or would like to arrange another litter pick.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party 

It shouldn’t just be all about money

First published Thursday 21 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – The scandal about horsemeat being found in various beef products is less an issue about food safety, or even about criminality, but about the wider issue of how food is currently produced.

The production of food has increasingly become just another big, international business, with long supply chains, involving much outsourcing upon further outsourcing.

As a result, the companies that sell the food to us, the supermarkets, have only reassurances from the people who make the food as to what is in it.

Yet those reassurances are only as good as those further down the supply chain.

This vision of modern food production is the antithesis of the green approach.

As much as possible, food should be grown and produced locally, keeping jobs in the area, reducing the huge costs, both monetary and environmental, of transportation.

The slow death of the high street is reported regularly.

The current food production model is just another way in which this imminent demise is getting closer. Rather than buying our fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and other foodstuffs locally, we prefer the convenience of getting everything from one place, the supermarket.

The more we can source food locally, grow it ourselves where possible, the better the local community will be.

As with much of life, reducing everything, in this case food, merely to economics, we lose sight of the bigger picture of how every choice we make can affect the world that we live in. Taking small steps, such as using your local butcher more often, can, over time, have a significant impact.

If we don’t resist the current global, multinational business model of food production and distribution, we may find the consequences hard to swallow.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

County MP has to criticise colleagues

First published Tuesday 12 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – I was intrigued by Peter Luff MP’s response to the vote by a majority of MPs to delay changing parliamentary boundaries (January 30).

He said that “the size of the Commons is too big, companies are downsizing and shedding jobs and they would be expecting us to do the same”.

If he is concerned about the Government leading by example, surely he ought to have criticised MPs for revealing in a survey that they believe they ought to receive a pay rise way above the one per cent public sector pay rise?

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

What about pedestrians’ safety in all this?

First published Friday 8 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – With reference to Worcester City Supporters’ Trust’s proposal to build a stadium at Perdiswell, Steve Carley wrote that “residents in the Bilford Road area, who already have the council tip on their doorstep adding to the traffic, are certain to have an opinion” (Worcester News, January 30).

Indeed, there are already concerns about the likely increase in traffic if a swimming pool is built where the leisure centre currently is.

Phil Pegler wrote (Worcester News, February 7) that “it is extremely difficult, even now, for anyone – and practically impossible for some elderly people – to cross (the junction of Astwood Road)”.

Residents have suggested that the entrance to the tip is widened, and residents’ concerns prompted a petition calling on the county council to look into potential safety measures.

I share Mr Pegler’s hope that we won’t have to wait any longer for this to happen.

NEIL LAURENSON

Foodbank numbers will keep on rising

First published Thursday 7 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – The Conservatives are intent upon making Britain work for the privileged few at the cost of the rest of us.

The number of foodbanks has risen six-fold since 2010.

Fast-rising rents, falling real wages and rising food prices have created the perfect storm for poverty.

The devastating benefit cuts, affecting those in work, seeking work and unfit for work, are pulling the rug further out from the needy.

Until there is a living wage for all, decent benefits to meet the real costs of living, an end to zero-hours contracts and casualised employment, sadly the need – the desperate, unavoidable need – for foodbanks is only going to increase.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party 

MPs could learn from president of Uruguay

First published Thursday 7 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – MPs who would like a 32 per cent pay rise could learn from the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, who donates about 90 per cent of his monthly salary (equivalent to £7,500) to charity.

Incidentally, the BBC reported that Mujica said at the Rio+20 summit last June: “Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”

Neil Laurenson

Worcester Green Party

Someone who relies on benefits is poor

First published Wednesday 6 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – It is a fiction that benefit levels are too high.

Someone who relies on benefits is poor.

They struggle to survive from week to week.

The Green Party supports an immediate link of benefit levels to annual inflation, the Retail Prices Index.

Breaking the link with prices exposes the poorest in society to serious inflation risk.

The Government’s intentions are clear: to chip away at the welfare state and leave people to fend for themselves, with US-style deprivation for the unsuccessful.

It is a scandal to expose poor people to such risk and insecurity, especially at the same time as the most wealthy are set to enjoy a significant tax cut.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party 

Arrange a litter pick? Then get in touch

First published Thursday 28 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – I would like to publicly thank the city council’s cleaner and greener department for responding to residents’ requests for bins to be installed and providing equipment for a recent litter pick around Wordsworth Avenue and Perdiswell Park.

I would encourage residents in St Stephen ward to get in touch if they know of any other potential sites for bins or would like to arrange another litter pick.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

It shouldn’t just be all about money

First published Thursday 21 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – The scandal about horsemeat being found in various beef products is less an issue about food safety, or even about criminality, but about the wider issue of how food is currently produced.

The production of food has increasingly become just another big, international business, with long supply chains, involving much outsourcing upon further outsourcing.

As a result, the companies that sell the food to us, the supermarkets, have only reassurances from the people who make the food as to what is in it.

Yet those reassurances are only as good as those further down the supply chain.

This vision of modern food production is the antithesis of the green approach.

As much as possible, food should be grown and produced locally, keeping jobs in the area, reducing the huge costs, both monetary and environmental, of transportation.

The slow death of the high street is reported regularly.

The current food production model is just another way in which this imminent demise is getting closer. Rather than buying our fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and other foodstuffs locally, we prefer the convenience of getting everything from one place, the supermarket.

The more we can source food locally, grow it ourselves where possible, the better the local community will be.

As with much of life, reducing everything, in this case food, merely to economics, we lose sight of the bigger picture of how every choice we make can affect the world that we live in. Taking small steps, such as using your local butcher more often, can, over time, have a significant impact.

If we don’t resist the current global, multinational business model of food production and distribution, we may find the consequences hard to swallow.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

County MP has to criticise colleagues

First published Tuesday 12 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – I was intrigued by Peter Luff MP’s response to the vote by a majority of MPs to delay changing parliamentary boundaries (January 30).

He said that “the size of the Commons is too big, companies are downsizing and shedding jobs and they would be expecting us to do the same”.

If he is concerned about the Government leading by example, surely he ought to have criticised MPs for revealing in a survey that they believe they ought to receive a pay rise way above the one per cent public sector pay rise?

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

What about pedestrians’ safety in all this?

First published Friday 8 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – With reference to Worcester City Supporters’ Trust’s proposal to build a stadium at Perdiswell, Steve Carley wrote that “residents in the Bilford Road area, who already have the council tip on their doorstep adding to the traffic, are certain to have an opinion” (Worcester News, January 30).

Indeed, there are already concerns about the likely increase in traffic if a swimming pool is built where the leisure centre currently is.

Phil Pegler wrote (Worcester News, February 7) that “it is extremely difficult, even now, for anyone – and practically impossible for some elderly people – to cross (the junction of Astwood Road)”.

Residents have suggested that the entrance to the tip is widened, and residents’ concerns prompted a petition calling on the county council to look into potential safety measures.

I share Mr Pegler’s hope that we won’t have to wait any longer for this to happen.

NEIL LAURENSON

Foodbank numbers will keep on rising

First published Thursday 7 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – The Conservatives are intent upon making Britain work for the privileged few at the cost of the rest of us.

The number of foodbanks has risen six-fold since 2010.

Fast-rising rents, falling real wages and rising food prices have created the perfect storm for poverty.

The devastating benefit cuts, affecting those in work, seeking work and unfit for work, are pulling the rug further out from the needy.

Until there is a living wage for all, decent benefits to meet the real costs of living, an end to zero-hours contracts and casualised employment, sadly the need – the desperate, unavoidable need – for foodbanks is only going to increase.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party 

MPs could learn from president of Uruguay

First published Thursday 7 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – MPs who would like a 32 per cent pay rise could learn from the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, who donates about 90 per cent of his monthly salary (equivalent to £7,500) to charity.

Incidentally, the BBC reported that Mujica said at the Rio+20 summit last June: “Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”

Neil Laurenson

Worcester Green Party 

Someone who relies on benefits is poor

First published Wednesday 6 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – It is a fiction that benefit levels are too high.

Someone who relies on benefits is poor.

They struggle to survive from week to week.

The Green Party supports an immediate link of benefit levels to annual inflation, the Retail Prices Index.

Breaking the link with prices exposes the poorest in society to serious inflation risk.

The Government’s intentions are clear: to chip away at the welfare state and leave people to fend for themselves, with US-style deprivation for the unsuccessful.

It is a scandal to expose poor people to such risk and insecurity, especially at the same time as the most wealthy are set to enjoy a significant tax cut.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party 

We won’t let Bilford Road issue drop

First published Monday 4 February 2013 in Letters

SIR – On January 19, Jon Fraser, of Worcestershire County Council, was quoted in the Worcester News in relation to a resident’s concerns about the A449 as saying: “The county council is always happy to engage and communicate with residents regarding highways issues.”

The same quote was provided on January 22 in response to the petition I submitted last November signed by 346 local residents, which called on the council to investigate potential safety measures at two specific points on Bilford Road.

Mr Fraser said that “parish council meetings and public roadshows are just two examples of the ways we listen to residents and their concerns”.

However, our petition called on the council to host a public meeting and this has been ignored.

Further, the council’s response claimed that there were “no recorded accidents”, when police data clearly shows several incidents over the past few years.

Residents still raise concerns with me and colleagues about Bilford Road, which hopefully the council will properly acknowledge and look into.

We will continue to campaign on behalf of residents in the area.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

Arrange a litter pick? Then get in touch

3:10pm Thursday 28th February 2013 in Read

SIR – I would like to publicly thank the city council’s cleaner and greener department for responding to residents’ requests for bins to be installed and providing equipment for a recent litter pick around Wordsworth Avenue and Perdiswell Park.

I would encourage residents in St Stephen ward to get in touch if they know of any other potential sites for bins or would like to arrange another litter pick.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

It shouldn’t just be all about money

SIR – The scandal about horsemeat being found in various beef products is less an issue about food safety, or even about criminality, but about the wider issue of how food is currently produced.

The production of food has increasingly become just another big, international business, with long supply chains, involving much outsourcing upon further outsourcing.

As a result, the companies that sell the food to us, the supermarkets, have only reassurances from the people who make the food as to what is in it.

Yet those reassurances are only as good as those further down the supply chain.

This vision of modern food production is the antithesis of the green approach.

As much as possible, food should be grown and produced locally, keeping jobs in the area, reducing the huge costs, both monetary and environmental, of transportation.

The slow death of the high street is reported regularly.

The current food production model is just another way in which this imminent demise is getting closer. Rather than buying our fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and other foodstuffs locally, we prefer the convenience of getting everything from one place, the supermarket.

The more we can source food locally, grow it ourselves where possible, the better the local community will be.

As with much of life, reducing everything, in this case food, merely to economics, we lose sight of the bigger picture of how every choice we make can affect the world that we live in. Taking small steps, such as using your local butcher more often, can, over time, have a significant impact.

If we don’t resist the current global, multinational business model of food production and distribution, we may find the consequences hard to swallow.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

County MP has to criticise colleagues

SIR – I was intrigued by Peter Luff MP’s response to the vote by a majority of MPs to delay changing parliamentary boundaries (January 30).

He said that “the size of the Commons is too big, companies are downsizing and shedding jobs and they would be expecting us to do the same”.

If he is concerned about the Government leading by example, surely he ought to have criticised MPs for revealing in a survey that they believe they ought to receive a pay rise way above the one per cent public sector pay rise?

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

What about pedestrians’ safety in all this?

1:18pm Friday 8th February 2013 in Read

SIR – With reference to Worcester City Supporters’ Trust’s proposal to build a stadium at Perdiswell, Steve Carley wrote that “residents in the Bilford Road area, who already have the council tip on their doorstep adding to the traffic, are certain to have an opinion” (Worcester News, January 30).

Indeed, there are already concerns about the likely increase in traffic if a swimming pool is built where the leisure centre currently is.

Phil Pegler wrote (Worcester News, February 7) that “it is extremely difficult, even now, for anyone – and practically impossible for some elderly people – to cross (the junction of Astwood Road)”.

Residents have suggested that the entrance to the tip is widened, and residents’ concerns prompted a petition calling on the county council to look into potential safety measures.

I share Mr Pegler’s hope that we won’t have to wait any longer for this to happen.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Foodbank numbers will keep on rising

2:36pm Thursday 7th February 2013 in Read

 SIR – The Conservatives are intent upon making Britain work for the privileged few at the cost of the rest of us.

The number of foodbanks has risen six-fold since 2010.

Fast-rising rents, falling real wages and rising food prices have created the perfect storm for poverty.

The devastating benefit cuts, affecting those in work, seeking work and unfit for work, are pulling the rug further out from the needy.

Until there is a living wage for all, decent benefits to meet the real costs of living, an end to zero-hours contracts and casualised employment, sadly the need – the desperate, unavoidable need – for foodbanks is only going to increase.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

 

MPs could learn from president of Uruguay

 SIR – MPs who would like a 32 per cent pay rise could learn from the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, who donates about 90 per cent of his monthly salary (equivalent to £7,500) to charity.

Incidentally, the BBC reported that Mujica said at the Rio+20 summit last June: “Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”

Neil Laurenson

Worcester Green Party

Someone who relies on benefits is poor

SIR – It is a fiction that benefit levels are too high.

Someone who relies on benefits is poor.

They struggle to survive from week to week.

The Green Party supports an immediate link of benefit levels to annual inflation, the Retail Prices Index.

Breaking the link with prices exposes the poorest in society to serious inflation risk.

The Government’s intentions are clear: to chip away at the welfare state and leave people to fend for themselves, with US-style deprivation for the unsuccessful.

It is a scandal to expose poor people to such risk and insecurity, especially at the same time as the most wealthy are set to enjoy a significant tax cut.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

We won’t let Bilford Road issue drop

SIR – On January 19, Jon Fraser, of Worcestershire County Council, was quoted in the Worcester News in relation to a resident’s concerns about the A449 as saying: “The county council is always happy to engage and communicate with residents regarding highways issues.”

The same quote was provided on January 22 in response to the petition I submitted last November signed by 346 local residents, which called on the council to investigate potential safety measures at two specific points on Bilford Road.

Mr Fraser said that “parish council meetings and public roadshows are just two examples of the ways we listen to residents and their concerns”.

However, our petition called on the council to host a public meeting and this has been ignored.

Further, the council’s response claimed that there were “no recorded accidents”, when police data clearly shows several incidents over the past few years.

Residents still raise concerns with me and colleagues about Bilford Road, which hopefully the council will properly acknowledge and look into.

We will continue to campaign on behalf of residents in the area.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

Let’s be clear about incineration plans

 SIR – Councillor [Ken] Pollock’s letter on the subject of incineration and fracking ‘Incineration is a wellestablished method’ (Worcester News, January 10) is deeply disturbing, particularly as his portfolio is environmental scrutiny.

Despite incineration being the most expensive and dirtiest approach, he wants us to believe that alternatives such as anaerobic digestion (AD) are themselves too expensive. Or that feedstock amounts are tiny.

The truth is that the council’s own reports vary between 24 per cent and 40 per cent of waste being food – hardly a tiny amount.

Expensive is also a relative word.

A PFI (private finance initiative) incinerator could add millions of pounds a year to council budgets because PFI deals are good news for multinationals, but bad news for the taxpayer.

On the other hand, greener alternatives could actually save the council money.

Therefore, in a time of austerity, with cuts to vital services and jobs, what the council proposes is truly staggering.

Fracking is about getting gas but there is a much safer, more secure and longer term way to do this – from anaerobic digestion.

It comes without the risks of fracking. Importantly, AD also produces a gas which can be used to produce energy from waste, without the need for incineration.

STEPHEN BROWN

Wyre Forest Green Party

PHILLIP OLIVER

Wyre Forest Friends of the Earth, Stourport and Wolverley

This isn’t fair. It’s the poor who suffer

SIR – In your editorial ‘Our ballot on benefits cap is revealing’ (Worcester News, January 9) you wrote in relation to the Government’s decision to cap benefit rises by one per cent that “we have little doubt that the Shirker, not Striver, rhetoric is mining a rich seam of resentment”.

Indeed, on January 8, the former leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, wrote that “the Government has been trying to sell this measure by painting a convenient picture of ‘shirkers’ on benefits”, adding that “an estimated 60 per cent of those affected will be in work”.

A TUC poll has revealed many misconceptions about welfare and benefit spending.

For example, on average, people think that 27 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently, while the Government’s own figure is 0.7 per cent.

David Cameron, George Osborne and our own MP [Robin Walker] claim that the benefit cap is about fairness, but how can it be fair if the poorest will suffer most?

As Owen Jones wrote in The Independent: “A government of millionaires makes the poor poorer while trying to turn them against each other… Any response but fury at what this government is doing is inexcusable.”

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

Government is exploiting economic crisis

SIR – Harriett Baldwin MP wrote in her column (Worcester News, December 27) that “this Government is doing a great deal to put cash in people’s pockets”, though surely she was not referring to ordinary people.

The Family Food Report published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) surveyed nearly 14,000 households across England – including more than 1,500 in the West Midlands – to find out which foods the average household is buying each week.

The report found that most households are spending less on food to make ends meet.

Natalie Bennett, the Green Party’s leader, said on Any Questions last month: “We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet the usage of food banks has gone up six times in the past three years. There are huge numbers of people in Britain today who aren’t really sure where tomorrow’s lunch is coming from.”

The Government is exploiting the economic crisis to fundamentally transform the welfare state and drive down ordinary people’s living standards.

This is unacceptable, and it is unacceptable to associate this agenda with “fairness”.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

So how important are the county’s roads?

 

SIR – Worcestershire County Council took out a full page advert in the Worcester News on December 12, which said that “residents and employers have identified roads as an important priority. We want to understand your views on the roads in your area”.

On November 15, I submitted a petition signed by 346 residents calling for an investigation into possible solutions for improving safety on Bilford Road.

At the time of writing I have yet to receive a response.

If the county council means what it says in its advert, it ought to respond to the petition soon.

MATTHEW JENKINS

Worcester Green Party

 


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Green Party Meetings

Come along to our monthly meeting to discuss our plans for Worcester and Worcestershire. Our next meeting starts at 7.30pm on Wednesday 24th January in the upstairs room at The Cricketers on Angel Street. It would be great to see some new people.

For more information, contact Louis via email or telephone 01905 359 509.