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Councillors Voting to Destroy Northamptonshire?

August 28, 2018

by Harry Mellor

Councillors will this week be voting at Borough, District and County level on proposals for reforming local government in Northamptonshire. The outcome is predictable: the county will be split into two ‘unitary’ authorities. Will their decision ultimately be financially disastrous for residents and businesses across the region?

For whatever cause, austerity, ineptitude or sheer bad luck, Northamptonshire, like many other councils in the country, is failing its people. This is not political failure, though politics is in play, it is an altogether bigger thing where the dynamics of an ever changing population meet an absence of planning foresight and where scarcity of funds combine with a local government generally lacking the ability and agility to respond to rapidly evolving circumstances.

Local government is responsible for delivering the essentials for the wellbeing of their community; responsive and trustworthy emergency services, good health and welfare, high quality education, safe roads with reliable public transport and, above all, positive civic vision and leadership. In the face of the county’s catastrophic financial failure Northamptonshire’s elected representatives are now having to decide how these public services are to be provided in the future.

The Secretary of State imposed strict conditions when he ordered the reorganization of Northamptonshire’s councils. As Councillors prepare to vote it is essential to review those conditions starting with the unjustified instruction to sever the county into two simply because the new authority areas must contain at least 300,000 resident. In fact only eleven of UK’s 55 unitary authorities have a population over 300,000. Though population size probably does matter it need not be the sole deciding factor. Slicing the county into two ignores the precise needs of the differing communities that will find themselves in the care of a new single authority. The councillors will stand up and say no to this split when they vote?

Condition number two is the requirement to reorganise and reform on the basis of a police authority area. But police authority areas are irrelevant to those communities on the county’s fringes. Whether it is access to shops, hospitals, workplaces or schools it is people and places that matter not the jurisdiction of a Chief Constable or Police and Crime Commissioner. Will Councillors agree that today’s bobby’s beats should shape tomorrow’s?

Third is the requirement that the proposal should have solid public support. The recent consultation exercise clearly failed in that respect. Fewer than 1% of all residents responded. To put it differently, just about 2% of Northamptonshire households gave an opinion. Will the councilors claim to have solid public backing for their decision?

More generally, and barely mentioned other than in the context of the potential for increased tax income, is the planned developments that swing through Northamptonshire following an arc stretching from Oxford to Cambridge. This proposed major infrastructure project involves new rail and road links servicing a corridor of interconnected new and expanded villages loosely associated with our existing towns. This is development on a vast scale with tens of thousands of new homes sprawling across virgin countryside. The new authorities are going to have to cope with implementing that ambition but there’s no mention in the proposal of any strategy or tactic to handle the social and community planning needs of such a major undertaking. What will voting councilors have to say on this?

It is current thinking that Town and Parish Councils could deliver more of the truly local services. Expanding this tier of government is at odds with the aim of achieving economies of scale through bringing all services under one organisational umbrella. Is that going to be approved by the elected representatives?

Last but not least is the proposal’s preoccupation with cash. It obsesses about paying for the reforms, about starting with a clean slate or not, and about the financial benefits of reorganisation. What is never mentioned is the quite evident dearth of talent able to drive through reform. Today’s council leadership teams are valued and rewarded as if they were captains of industry. But we have seen that high salaries do not equate to visionary and inspiring leaders. Where in the next few months, whether from the ashes of existing councils or elsewhere, are the leadership teams able to design, manage and deliver a democratic process of change, teams with vision capable of driving through the reforms necessary for building a solid foundation for a sustainable financial future? Will today’s voting councillors know the answer to this fundamental human resources question?

It is said that people get the government they deserve. One thing is for sure; the people of Northamptonshire will soon know what they are going to get. For what the people of Northamptonshire are about to receive, should they be truly thankful?

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We Need to Keep, Extend and Enforce the Hunting Ban in Parliament

December 26, 2017

Jonathan Hornett - Your Green Party Candidate

JH Keep The BanPublic support for fox hunting is at an all-time low, a new poll reported by The Independent today shows that 85 per cent of the public support maintaining the current ban on hunting with hounds.  So Theresa May was right to abandon a free vote on the issue, but don’t be fooled, she is not proposing to strengthen the ban, Conservatives still support hunting.

The Green Party’s policy is crystal clear; we oppose all forms of hunting.  During the General Election campaign, Keith Taylor MEP, the Green Party’s Animals Spokesperson, condemned Theresa May’s plan to bring back fox hunting.  The vocal animal welfare campaigner and South East MEP said:

“That Theresa May has been forced into this admission is extremely telling. The bloodthirsty plot to repeal the foxhunting ban had, until now, only been discussed behind closed doors because the Tories know 84% of the public oppose this barbaric pursuit

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A huge victory on animal sentience

December 13, 2017

We just made the Government pull a screeching U-turn.

When I tabled an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill to transfer the full effect of EU law on animal sentience into UK law, the Tories voted me down. But with your support, I forced them to announce a new draft Bill yesterday.

Thanks to you, the obligation on the Government to ‘pay regard to animal sentience when making new laws’ will now be transferred into UK law.

If you have a cat or a dog, you don’t need me to tell you that animals have an emotional life.

For most of us, it’s not some philosophical question. It’s obvious that your pet can be happy and sad. They have moods. They can feel pain. And they can suffer.

It’s common sense to this nation of animal lovers, but our Government had to be forced to make sure that ministers will always take animal sentience into account when making future laws.

Yesterday, we made a real difference to ensuring high standards of animal protection in the UK for years to come.

Thank you for your help in making it happen. And thank you for supporting the only party which will always stand up for animals.

Yours,


Caroline Lucas MP

Universal Credit

October 22, 2017

Basic (Citizens') Income

The case for the Universal Credit (UC) would make far more sense headed ‘Universal Basic Income’ (UBI) yet there has been no mention whatsoever of the UBI in debates recently.

The original report ‘Dynamic Benefits: towards Welfare that works’ is not easy to find. I think the government would be embarrassed if anybody more famous than me drew attention to it. Search ‘Centre for Social justice’, Click ‘Policy Work’, then ‘Publications’. You then had to find the right page from about 13 (it was published on 16th September 2009), but strangely, the link for ‘Publications’ where I have accessed the report before did not work today. However, it came up when I searched for ‘Dynamic Benefits’  whilst on the CfSJ website.

Passages should have been read out in last Thursday’s Parliamentary debate on the UC (18.10.2017). Its cardinal point is that the UC would

Make work pay

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3G Pitch Battle – Children At Greatest Risk

October 7, 2017

Jonathan Hornett - Your Green Party Candidate

3G Cancer Ex-NHS chief claims 3G football pitches may have given his son cancer – Mirror Online

The lines have been drawn at a Wellingborough Leisure Centre, but nanoparticles will cross them.  The proposed Redwell 3G Pitch is next to a primary school, and tyre rubber crumb dust from the pitch will blow into classrooms.  Studies have shown these invisible nanoparticles act like asbestos.  We all now about illnesses caused by asbestos, which is why local people want to know why they and their children should be exposed?

Occasional Exposures Reduce Risk

Stuart L Shalat, scientist at EOHSI (Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Institute) states “Given that there are only occasional exposures this tends to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.” But local residents argue that there are no “only occasional exposures” for the children in the adjoining school nor for the people living in neighbouring houses.

This really needs rethinking…

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Save Our Trains: Wellingborough Consultation

September 30, 2017

Jonathan Hornett - Your Green Party Candidate

saveourtrainshouseA petition against plans to radically change train services in the north of the county has attracted 4,000 signatures.

The ‘Save Our Trains’ petition opposes a proposal to end direct intercity trains for Luton, Luton Airport, Bedford, Wellingborough, Melton Mowbray and Oakham.

Plans are also on the table for a reduced service between Leicester and Kettering.

If the proposals go ahead, passengers travelling north from Wellingborough will have to change on to the reduced service at Kettering.

Ben Foley of the Green Party and East Midlands Rail Campaign, who set up the SaveOurTrains.co.uk petition, said: “If enough people join the 3,700 who have already signed the petition, we have a real chance of not just stopping the worst of the proposals, but of ending with the best train service yet on this route.”

The petition also opposes the decision to scrap the electrification of the line north of Kettering.

The…

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Government running scared of its own Brexit impact studies, says Green MEP

September 20, 2017

MollyGreen MEP, Molly Scott Cato, who has been challenging ministers to release secret government studies into the impacts of Brexit [1], has accused the government of running scared of its own findings.

The accusation comes following a letter from Steve Baker, Undersecretary of State for exiting the EU, in which he states that it would be innaproriate to publish analysis that would risk damaging the UK’s negotiating position. Responding, Dr Scott Cato, who is Green Party speaker on Brexit, said:

“To conceal studies under the guise that it weaken the governement’s negotiating position can mean only one thing: that the studies reveal Brexit will have a negative impact on the UK. If the findings were in any way positive and backed-up their hard Brexit folly, or strengthened their negotiating hand, you can bet they would have been released long ago. The government is running scared. It knows that the impacts of Brexit will be disastrous on our economy.”

Mr Baker acknowledged that the government has conducted analysis of over 50 sectors of the economy covering financial services, agriculture, energy, retail, infrastructure and transport. The government has repeatedly been asked to list the sectors it has analysed. In June, in answer to a parliamentary question, the government said it would publish the list ‘shortly’, but to date no such list has been made available.

Green MP, Caroline Lucas, also asked a parliamentary question on whether the impact studies have reached a different conclusion on the UK’s membership of the single market to studies carried out by the government in 2013. The studies, known as the Balance of Competences [2], concluded that membership of the single market resulted in GDP of both the EU and the UK being ‘appreciably greater than they otherwise would be’ and that ‘integration has brought… appreciable economic benefits.’ The government refused to answer, again arguing that to publish anything would undermine the UK’s ability to negotiate the best deal for the UK. Molly Scott Cato concluded:

“This is a government in total chaos, riven with internal conflict and division and choosing to feed people fanciful nonsense about life outside the EU rather than reveal the truth about its reckless Brexit escapade. Communities, businesses and public services need confidence in our long-term planning and this can only be achieved through open, transparent decision-making. The government should come clean and let everyone see exactly what the likely impacts of Brexit on our economy will be.” 

Dr Scott Cato is currently awaiting a response to a freedom of information request for further details of a leaked study into the impacts of Brexit on the NHS [3]. The study, undertaken by the Department of Health, suggests Brexit could result in a shortage of more than 40,000 nurses by 2026. A petition set up by the European Movement, calling on the Government to publish impact studies has reached almost 18,000 signatures [4].

Links

[1] http://mollymep.org.uk/2017/08/11/mep-slams-govt-for-hiding-50-studies-impacts-of-brexit/

 

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/final-reports-in-review-of-eu-balance-of-competences-published

[3] http://mollymep.org.uk/2017/09/01/foi-secret-brexit-study-on-nhs/

[4] http://www.europeanmovement.co.uk/release_the_studies

Molly Scott Cato is Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar and is one of 50 Green/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. She sits on the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee, PANA committee investigating tax evasion and the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Molly is Green Party speaker on Brexit.

No service cuts & keep Intercity trains to Wellingborough

July 29, 2017

Jonathan Hornett - Your Green Party Candidate

notoq4I’ve just had a read of this document and there are some very concerning plans / ideas here about future train services for our area. You might want to have a look. I plan to make a submission to this consultation.

I agree that we need greater train service capacity which may include looking at additional lines and services, and it’s also important that our existing services aren’t down graded. I am also very concerned about the plans (herein) re travelling north to Market Harborough, Leicester etc. I work in Leicester and the plans here would mean the removal of all direct trains to MH, Leicester, Nottingham and elsewhere from Wellingborough. I thought the idea of building 3,500 houses next to the train station would support more people using the train (in both directions), not possibly a reduction or downgrading of services.

If you are a train user in this…

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Keep, Extend and Enforce the Hunting Ban, Vote Green

July 16, 2017

Jonathan Hornett - Your Green Party Candidate

JH Keep The BanIf elected I will fight against hunting and vote to keep the ban.  I will make upgrading the Hunting Act 2004 to include all blood sports my first private members’ bill.  I will also add to the bill to make it enforceable.

The Green Party’s policy is crystal clear; we oppose all forms of hunting.   Keith Taylor MEP, the Green Party’s Animals Spokesperson, has condemned Theresa May’s plan to bring back fox hunting.  The vocal animal welfare campaigner and South East MEP said:

“That Theresa May has been forced into this admission is extremely telling. The bloodthirsty plot to repeal the foxhunting ban had, until now, only been discussed behind closed doors because the Tories know 84% of the public oppose this barbaric pursuit, which is enjoyed by only a tiny privileged minority.”

“Let’s be clear, the Conservatives did not want to be open with the public about this plan…

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Discover The Local Talking Newspaper

July 1, 2017

Jonathan Hornett - Your Green Party Candidate

WP_20170605_19_24_20_ProLast night I had the pleasure of joining the team at Wellingborough and District Talking Newspaper from their own studio at The Belgrade Centre, Denington Road, Wellingborough.   The news is recorded on Monday evenings and dispatched on a Tuesday mornings by a dedicated team of volunteers to over 100 individual listeners and to a number of day centres and care homes for use in the communal areas.

Simon Turner, a Green Party Member, helps to run the free Talking Newspaper service, delivering audio recordings of local news and magazine articles through its customer’s letter box.  Simon said “you qualify if you are blind or partially sighted with close up vision of N12 or less quality.  You do not have to be registered blind or partially sighted. Approaches can be made to us direct by the would-be listener, their family, friends or social worker. Clubs or county librarians who work with…

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