Letters April 2012 - December 2012

A more equal society has to be our aim

SIR – Some people say that you can be better off on benefits than actually getting a job.

There are millions of people working at or close to the minimum wage – for these people it must be frustrating to see some people on benefits with an apparent standard of living very similar to their own.

However, we are still a very rich nation, ranked within the top 10 in the world, although the nation’s wealth is highly concentrated with the fortunate few at the top of our society.

State benefits are an essential safety net for the unemployed, the elderly, those with mental or physical disabilities, and we all pay into the system to ensure that there is a safety net in case we or our families are in need.

We should not cut or even freeze benefits to create a bigger difference between benefit levels and work, but instead introduce a living wage and gradually work towards a more equal society where pay at the top is no more than 10 times the pay at the bottom.

LOUIS STEPHEN

Worcester Green Party

Fracking? The process is very un-green

SIR – The coalition Government has now given the go-ahead to restart fracking for shale gas to enable gas to be burnt – “business as usual”.

Fracking is essentially a process of pumping a high pressure mixture of water and chemicals into the ground below our country to fracture and crack the rocks below to release methane gas.

Unfortunately, it will be impossible to capture all the methane gas produced and a significant amount will be released into the atmosphere, which will make the whole process very un-green.

In the United States, where this technique was pioneered, there has been pollution of the drinking water aquifers.

The only way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

The positive way forward is to introduce energy efficiency measures as well pushing ahead with renewable energy production via wave, tidal, wind and solar technologies.

These technologies will reduce damage to the atmosphere and create many more jobs.

LOUIS STEPHEN

Worcester Green Party

It’s tough for Greens but we’re still fighting

SIR – John Phillpott challenges the Green Party to make a breakthrough in Worcester over the issue of Europe (Worcester News, November 17).

Party funding is still a major issue in this country – we simply do not have a level playing field.

In 2011, the Conservative Party received £15 million, with more than half of its income coming from the vested interests of big businesses.

Labour received about £19 million, with much of its donations coming from unions.

In contrast, the Green Party’s income comes mainly from its own members, which is less than £0.2 million.

No one wants the Green Party to make that breakthrough more than me but being realistic, the effects of incumbency, limited media air time, the first-past-the-post electoral system and the massive difference in party funding streams means that the Green Party’s progress in the national polls will probably be steady rather than spectacular.

Despite these challenges, the Green Party is committed to giving Worcester’s residents a chance to vote for a real alternative.

LOUIS STEPHEN

Worcester Green Party

Let’s be truthful about these Gaza attacks

 SIR – Whatever people believe about what started the latest assault on Gaza, the fact that casualties have overwhelmingly been civilians indicates that the Israeli military is engaged in collective, not targeted, killings, thus once again committing the crime of collective punishment.

Instead of condemning this crime, the Government and the mainstream media remain complicit.

It requires organisations such as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) to promote the truth: “Occupation is the context within which the events taking place must be understood. Israel presents its attacks as mere self-defence, as if it is an innocent, peaceloving country undergoing attacks from hostile forces… In fact it is Israel that has held the Palestinians under violent occupation these past 45 years, including the inhabitants of Gaza, who have been systematically impoverished, imprisoned, blockaded, excluded from their agricultural lands, assassinated from the air and killed on the ground – an entire civilian population terrorised by a powerful state with the most advanced military weaponry.”

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

The Government is killing health service

SIR – At a public meeting in Worcester on July 1, 2011, Robin Walker MP said: “The NHS should remain national, public and free.

“Sometimes people accuse us (the Government) of wanting to privatise the NHS… That is not the case at all. I don’t want to see the NHS changed beyond recognition or cut. I don’t think the Government would dare to cut the NHS and wouldn’t be in power again if it did.“ Perhaps these words will come to haunt him. Dr Eoin Clarke, editor of the Green Benches political blog, wrote on September 27: “Twentyfive A&E wards are in the process of closing and 300 ambulance stations are being sold.

“Community Hospitals are shutting, as are maternity wards.

“42,000 NHS staff have been sacked as of September 2012, including 6,000 nurses.

“Profit-makers now control £5 billion worth of our NHS.

“This will grow to £7 billion this year and every single contract of value above £20 million has been won by a Tory donor.

“Virgin, Serco, Interserve and Circle have given the Conservatives £3 million in donations. In return, they have been handed £4 billion worth of NHS services.”

Regardless of the political rhetoric, this Government is killing off our National Health Service.

NEIL LAURENSON

Worcester Green Party

 

I’m still waiting for answers on incinerator

SIR – In November the county council is expected to sign a 25-year contract with Mercia Waste Management for a £120 million incinerator at Hartlebury tading estate.

As the Worcester News reported on August 22, there are concerns that the incinerator could end up costing more than £1 billion.

Less expensive and more environmentally friendly options for dealing with waste appear not to have been considered.

If the county council decides to sign the contract for the incinerator, it could have a huge impact on services and taxpayers.

I attended a county council meeting on September 13 to ask some specific questions concerning the possible costs of the incinerator.

They were:

 

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.