Thursday, 11 February 2016

Committee of the Regions report 11/2 GDP RIP?

A debate on the use of GDP as an indicator of territorial development was held. Greens have long held the view that GDP and the Economic Growth it measures are of little use as an indicator of social progress. This is how I responded to the debate:

I thank the rapporteur for her amendments which highlight some of the inherent problems with GDP as a measure of social or environmental progress. It was the creator of the concept of GDP who said that 
'Distinctions should be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth' GDP takes no account of consumption of non renewable resources or degradation of the environment. So just as the road to hell is paved with good intentions so the road to catastrophic damage to our climate could be made up of an ever rising GDP. The UK Government and your Governments measure their 'success' or failure in terms of GDP which has no relation to quality of life or our environment. GDP is a dangerous indicator if it drives policy decisions and needs to be abandoned.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Huddersfield Accident and Emergency - Our 'powerless' Government

 It has been interesting to read the Conservative Government response to the online Parliament petition to save A&E services in Huddersfield. It says that it "is a matter for local determination" and "it is right that these decisions are led by local clinicians, who best understand the healthcare needs of their local populations and in consultation with local people".

The response fails to recognise that  Government  sets the rules and is the ultimate provider of NHS funding. Government makes the funding environment within which local decisions are made. Most people accept that the PFI deal, that was agreed years ago, was a bad one. This financial option is one that both Labour and Conservative Governments have promoted as a dubious, and often expensive, way of funding public sector projects. Successive Governments have set the rules and now this one wants to wash its hands of the issue and say it is a local decision. What I do find very strange  is that Prime Minister David Cameron felt able to go to the Calderdale Royal Hospital in April last year, before the election and guarantee that A & E services would remain there. I am pleased that A&E will remain in Halifax but what makes that issue one that the Prime Minister felt he could comment on and yet the decison at Huddersfield A&E is a "matter for local determination"?

There has been plenty of legitimate talk about PFI in the context of the proposals for the future of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary but very little on the £30 Billion NHS funding gap that was such a feature of the General Election. There was no satisfactory answer to this gap by either potential Government Party, Labour or Tory.  I wonder why local MPs are not referring to it now as an important element in this sorry saga.

The best possible tactic now (as well as putting pressure on local NHS decision makers) is for those of us who want to maintain Accident and Emergency and other Acute Service at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to keep knocking at the Government door and to make them take responsibility. They are the majority Government after all, even if only 37% of Electors voted for them.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Green Councillor backs resident calls to protect the Green Belt

 Kirkburton Green Party Councillor Robert Barraclough has backed the calls of many residents to preserve the Green Belt.  The Green Councillor from Farnley Tyas has come out against calls by Farnley Estates to release more Green Belt for Housing Development to support their proposed Country Park.

Councillor Barraclough said

“As the Draft Kirklees Local Plan consultation ends it is now time to reflect and consider the responses many local people have made through this process. I have spoken to a lot of local people as individuals, responded to emails and phone calls, attended community meetings and have put information about the Local Plan through many local letterboxes. I have got a very clear picture of local feelings and concerns.

One of the main concerns has been the proposal by Farnley Estates to release of Greenbelt land to the Farnley Country Park. Farnley Estates have been actively promoting the concept and this has led to a wide ranging and often heated debate. At this point and looking at the correspondence I have received I feel that there needs to to be much more detail in the proposal before it can be assessed thoroughly.

The proposal requires the release of sensitive areas of Green Belt for housing which I would not be able to support especially as in the draft plan almost all of the proposed sites have been rejected.

In fact the strength of response brings into question whether or not the Green Belt allocation for this proposal should appear in the plan at all. The  wording in the  Draft Local Plan could be reinterpreted over the course of the plan and this is a genuine concern. I will be asking Officers to review this inclusion with a view to removal or substantially tighter drafting.

Since the start of the consultation period I have consistently recommended to concerned residents that the best course of action was to support the rejected sites option, this is what many have done and a course of action that I still agree with.”

Contact –Cllr Robert Barraclough Email -  Mobile - 07778 315577

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Suma - you can have your ethically sourced organic cake and eat it!

Cllr Karen Allison, Julius Nicholson (Suma) and Cllr Andrew Cooper
 Imagine a business where everyone is paid the same wage whether you are the cleaner, work in the office, are management or on the shop floor. Imagine a business where jobs rotate so everyone gets to know every aspect of what makes it tick. Imagine a business where all major decisions that affect it are made by all the employees/members. Imagine it was a multi million pound business employing over 150 staff trading internationally. Imagine no more, this is Suma Wholefoods just over the Kirklees border in Elland. I went over there last week to see how it worked and get a feel for the place.

Suma has a huge warehouse full of foods with a strong emphasis on organic, fair trade, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced products. Suma's values make it a strong force for good business practice not just in environmental terms but in treatment of its employees. I've worked in the public sector, the rapacious cut throat private sector and even an employee owned company so it was refreshing to see a successful workers cooperative of many years standing doing so well. It is not the sort of company you would join if you were looking to buy a luxury yacht or a holiday cottage in the Cotswolds. What it does offer, it seems, is job satisfaction and relative job security in an increasingly insecure world. I got a buzz and feel for the place over the couple of hours I ŵas there and you definitely got the impression that it was a happy workforce as well as an obviously successful one. For me it showed that it is completely possible for a company to have strong ethical values, a democratic structure and 'cut the mustard' in the business world (wholegrain organic mustard of course!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Residents back Community Orchard

Supporters of a small community orchard in Huddersfield gathered to express their support for the Local Plan proposal that would see their orchard protected as local green space. The community orchard on the corner of Wentworth Street and Mountjoy Road was considered as possible building land by Kirklees but has been used for a number of community events over the last 5 years and as a place for children to play.

Tom Taylor, chair of the Friends of Highfields Community Orchard said

"We created the orchard on a disused piece of land in 2010. We're delighted that the draft local plan recognises that it is important to local people as a place for play, community events and a space which brings us together."

The Kirklees local plan will describe how land will be used in Kirklees in coming years. The consultation ends on 1 Feb. Kirklees residents are encouraged to make their views known and the final decisions about land use will be made later this year.

Councillor Andrew Cooper said

"All credit to the local people for campaigning so hard over the last few years to save this land from development and making it a special space for the community. Hopefully we are nearly there now!"


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Green Leader calls for ' Save A&E' posters and banners on Kirklees buildings and vehicles

At Saturday's successful Demonstration against the proposed closure of Huddersfield Accident and Emergency and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary Kirklees Green Party Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper called for all Council buildings and vehicles to be allowed to display 'Hands off HRI' and 'Save our A&E' posters.

Councillor Cooper said,

"At last Wednesday's Full Council meeting all parties on Kirklees gave unequivocal backing to the campaign to protect NHS Services in the area. A very tangible and visible example of that support would be to allow the Council's Town Halls, Libraries, offices and other public buildings to display posters and banners in support of the campaign to protect local health services. The Council could also allow its vehicles such as vans and even bin waggons to be used to display appropriate posters. We need to demonstrate that it is the whole community and the institutions that represent it that oppose these proposals. I will raise this idea with other Party leaders and the Chief Executive of the Council."

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Greens to call for an Extraordinary Kirklees Council meeting on the Huddersfield Accident and Emergency crisis.

Councillors Andrew Cooper and Karen Allison at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
 Green Councillors on Kirklees Council are to call for an Extraordinary Council Meeting to focus on the crisis facing Hospital Services including the threatened Huddersfield Accident and Emergency Unit.

In Wednesday’s Council meeting Councillor Andrew Cooper, Leader of the Kirklees Green Party Group will propose an amendment to motion on NHS Services asking the Council to:

“call an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council regarding NHS Services in Kirklees as the only item on the agenda at the earliest opportunity.”

The amendment goes on to call on all political groups on Kirklees Council to,

“work together to establish a joint resolution on NHS Services in Kirklees to be presented to the  Extraordinary Meeting”

Councillor Andrew Cooper said,

“This is too important an issue to be used for political point scoring on which Government is to blame for getting us into this mess. We need to focus on solutions and a way forward to resolve this crisis. That is why I have asked all parties to come together to produce a joint resolution for decision at an Extraordinary Council Meeting. I would be keen for us to invite appropriate NHS officials and Management to address the meeting and answer questions from elected members. There should also be an opportunity for contributions from local people at the beginning of the meeting.”