Thursday, 28 December 2017

"I could do your job!" - The death of deference

'Deference' being sought in Planet of the Apes
One thing I've always been uncomfortable with is deference. I don't like the heirarchical nature of our country. It is what makes me an instinctive Republican. I've never been a big fan of authority in any form. Living in a country where we defer to people who have privilege and position by accident of birth makes me feel like I am living in some sort of bizarre Ruritanian fantasy kingdom as opposed to the modern European democracy that I wish we were but just aren't.

I've never believed that people in managerial or political positions are inherently in any way superior and I have, what I regard, as a healthy disrespect for authority. It's one of the things that got me involved in politics in the first place. The need to take on the pompous, the bullies and those who believe they have a right to the positions they hold or those who believe that no one has a legitimate democratic right to challenge them.  When I was first elected and many years afterwards I inwardly winced when Council officers referred to me as 'Councillor' and I tried to steer them in the 'Call me Andrew' direction. Now I recognise that Council Officers referring to me as 'Councillor' is a way of them emphasising their professional detachment and being clear about our respective roles which is not the same as the deference I so despise. I live with the title, I guess I've earn't it.

The general populace has caught up and deference to politicians is not what it was in years gone by. This has got to be a good thing. It comes as a bit of a shock after 18 or so years on the Council to find that some people regard you as part of 'the establishment'. So one Saturday night a few weeks ago  I'm wandering through Huddersfield Bus Station and this drunken guy shouts across at me  "Hey! you're Andrew Cooper, my MP. I could do your job but I bet you couldn't do mine!", It was on the tip of my tongue to come out with some witty remark referencing what I thought his job might be but I decided instead to just give him a cheery wave and say 'Bye!'. Of course, and unfortunately, I wasn't his MP and a Councillor gets about a seventh of the salary of an MP. I also guess that he only hadn't the faintest idea of what I actually did as a Councillor (orwhat an MP did come to that) and that to him it would be something along the lines of just saying whatever came into my head in a meeting and who can't do that for goodness sake? Just as a drink or two can make people bold so can social media and I often read whimsically the inaccurate comments made about me or my role on the Huddersfield Examiner Facebook page by some people. The latest was someone who asserted that I could claim back my energy bills in expenses from the Council ' I'm afraid not matey!' I didn't bother trying to correct him. Maybe I should have done.

 So has the lack of deference to politicians gone too far? I don't think so and politicians can worry too much about what some guy posts (it usually is a guy) on social media about them. We've just got to a certain extent 'suck it up'. Every now and again someone will cross a line but generally we've got to live with it or take them on as you see fit. A bit of a thick skin can be helpful to people in the public eye.

Deference and the love of positions for their own sake is, however, not dead. For some politicians the title as opposed the role, and the deference/respect that comes with those positions, remains a prime motivator. It concerns me greatly because a desire for a position is not generally a good measure of someone's suitability for that position. If that position is achieved by patronage to secure the deference of colleagues then that concerns me even more. So though some regard me as part of 'the establishment' these days I will continue to challenge those in power and those who seek it for the wrong reasons. I've never sought deference and I won't be providing it to anyone else any day soon.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Fire without smoke - Green Councillor proposes banning a 'banned substance'

From 'Huddersfield - The Handbook' 1960!
The whole of Kirklees is a Smoke Control Area This means that if you burn fuel that gives off smoke you could be fined up to £1000. The original Clean Air Act was introduced in 1956 as a way of dealing with the epidemic in respiratory conditions arising from people living  in an environment with thousands of chimneys belching out smoke. Most homes were heated primarily by housecoal, which is not smoke free. The introduction of smokeless coal and more homes getting connected to gas meant that air quality was vastly improved. The whole of Kirklees is a Smoke Control Area which means that it is effectively illegal to burn housecoal anywhere in the district.So if it is illegal to burn it why can you still buy it? You go to petrol stations, hardware stores and solid fuel merchants and they stock it and they presumably sell it. The people who buy it I'm guessing don't just stockpile it to look nice for display purposes only. I can't really imagine someone proudly showing their visitors their huge bile of the black stuff saying "Come and have a look at my heritage coal which I can't burn. Looks great doesn't it! Really black and dirty." So tonnes and tonnes of this stuff flies off the forecourts and coal yards each year and adds to the atmospheric soup of pollution we all breathe in. So one idea I'm exploring with Kirklees Legal officers is whether we can establish a local byelaw to ban the stuff. It should be uncontroversial. Why are people allowed to buy a fuel they can't burn anyway?  I remember when smokeless fuel was a bit rubbish and difficult to light compared with housecoal. Now smokeless fuel is a better product and some even boasts it contains 50% renewable components like Ecocoal. Smokeless or not,  coal is bad for our global environment in terms of carbon emissions but dealing with the immediate health impacts of housecoal by restricting it's sale should be something we had done years ago so lets see if we can do it.

What happens next having advocated a ban on the sale of housecoal is a chorus of "What about you greenie types and your woodburners? That may be renewable but it gives off smoke?" This can be true if you have a  poor wood burner and fuel with a high moisture content but it doesn't have to be like that. Kiln dried fuel and DEFRA approved wood burners/boilers can ensure smoke is kept to a miminum. The other benefit is that you can help support local employment by buying a DEFRA approved Dunsley Yorkshire Boiler like mine, manufactured in Holmfirth .No I'm not on commission!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

PRESS RELEASE - 25 years of Green Party Christmas Buses

Huddersfield Greens are marking 25 years of the volunteer buses they have been running over the Christmas Holidays since 1992. Councillor Andrew Cooper who is a volunteer driver said,


“I remember the first one we ran in 1992 which we ran as a protest against the removal of services over the holiday period. Since then some services have been resumed in some areas in recent years on Boxing Day”


Newsome Green Party Councillor Karen Allison who has also been a volunteer on the bus service said


“I really enjoy doing the bus service each year and it is now very much part of my Christmas holiday
routine. At this time of year when there are limited public transport services taxi journeys can be expensive particularly from rural villages so people who use the minibus we operate really do value it. We put timetables on bus stops and in local shops so people are aware of our schedule. The service is free to use but donations towards fuel costs are always welcome. A copy of our timetable is below.”


The minibus is now provided by Kirklees Council through Commodle which provides a wide range of Council equipment for community activities.



The 2 services provided are on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. On Boxing Day a service connects Grange, Moor and Flockton with Huddersfield Town Centre and on New Years Day the service runs from Berry Brow,Newsome into Town and on the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.”


Boxing Day - Flockton/Grange Moor/Lepton/Huddersfield



Monday, 27 November 2017

Driving climate action in Kirklees - Andrew Cooper - European Committee ...



It took pretty much a full day to film this and it was cold! Nice to meet Sue Lee-Richards and Louise Galvin at Castle Hill with other volunteers cleaning up after Bonfire Night and who became impromptu extras. Then down to Gideon and Sue's house to look at all their renewable energy gizmos and the electric car. Well done to the film crew from Brussels who did such a good job putting it together.


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Labour back Stewart Smith’s plans to build on the Newsome Bowling Green site

Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner speaking against Stewart Smith's
planning application
The Newsome Bowling Green that was dug up by Stewart Smith a few months ago, after he denied local bowlers access and demolished their club house, has been granted Planning Permission following a proposal by a Labour Councillor on the Planning Committee. Mr Smith claims he will make a million pounds from the sale of the site.

Green Councillor Julie Stewart-Turner who represented residents at the Planning Committee said,

 "Just because Mr Smith has destroyed the current Bowling Green it does not mean a new one cannot be developed on the same site. It would be a sad reflection on the Council if someone was allowed to abuse some land and then we gave in to them doing what they like on it”

A legal Covenant held by Kirklees Council remains on the land that says it can only be used as a Bowling Green

“The Covenant on the land still stands and we as local Councillors will not be bullied by anyone into removing it” said Julie who called on the Committee to support the residents and refuse the Application.
Labour Councillor James Holmewood supporting Stewart Amith's application

Labour Councillor James Holmewood then moved the recommendation to approve Mr Smith’s application to build on the site

“I am happy to move the recommendation” Labour Councillor James Holmewood who was seconded by the Conservatives

The Covenant is the last line of defence against building on the site and local Green Councillors will have to be overruled by the Labour Cabinet if it the Covenant is to be lifted to allow Mr Smith to develop on the land.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bonn breakthrough as Climate Summit agrees Local and Regional Targets

At COP23 in Bonn today at the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders agreement was acheived to establish Local and Regional targets to help keep global temperatures below 1.5 - 2 degrees C.

Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper who conceived the idea of Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions towards acheiving the climate goals of the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement said,

"I am really pleased by the decision today from delegates from around the world. It has been a 2 year journey from first having the idea to getting the EU Committee of the Regions to adopt it, to todays vote on the Summit Declaration of Local and Regional Leaders. The real work starts now in implementing Local and Regional Contributions towards reducing emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement"

The Summit Declaration which was adopted unanimously stated,

" We will establish our own Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions to help national Governments  achieve and exceed existing Nationally Determined Contributions"

Councillor Cooper said


"At COP21 in Paris 2 years ago National Governments expressed their efforts to achieve carbon emission reduction targets as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ - NDCs. In the case of the UK our NDC made no reference to the work being undertaken by Local Authorities to reduce emissions. Efforts at the local level such as improved building standards beyond building regulation, installing LED street lights, planting trees to capture carbon emissions etc were simply not measured or taken into account in those national contributions and therefore not valued. A system of Locally Determined Contributions would change all that and allow Local and Regional Authorities to determine their own targets with robust plans to acheive them.

There is of course a strong relevance here to those in the United States who are opposing the Trump Administration's abandonment of the Climate Agreement. Many States are already forging ahead with carbon saving plans despite Trump but an agreed system of Local and Regionally determined Contributions gives structure and legitimacy to their action based on an international agreement."

So what is it like at a Global Climate Summit?



I'm here at the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn and I thought I'd try to convey to you what its like.

The first thing to say is that it is huge. There are over 20,000 people who are registered delegates for this event from all round the world so there is a very diverse and sometimes colourful array of people attending. The venue is essentially a huge  rigid tent like  structure with halls , meeting room, restaurants all connected
by corridors. The number of events is dazzling and you have to pick what you can go to
carefully.

I got an invite to a screening of Al Gore's new film 'An Inconvenient Sequel' with the man himself speaking afterwards which was a must do.

There is of course all the events around Summit of Local and Regional Leaders which have been my focus as part of my push for 'Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions. I've also done a number of media interviews which of course is a key reason to be here and to get the message across. There are a number of exhibition areas where national
delegations and NGOs have stands in big halls. Occasionally you'll meet someone you know as you travel between venues and catch up before you move on to the next thing. It is interesting, its different and big opportunity to make contacts and increase your knowledge on the biggest
challenge facing humanity.

 For me getting something tangible out of this unique experience is what its all about. Only a few hours to go to find out if that's been acheived.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

PRESS RELEASE - Green Councillor to take on Trump at Bonn Climate Change Talks


Councillor Andrew Cooper
Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper is attending the COP23 Climate Change Talks in Bonn, Germany next week and he has a plan to tackle the Climate Change Denying US President, Donald Trump.

Andrew is a member of the UK Delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions that represents the views of Local and Regional Governments in the European Union. At a meeting of the Committee last month he successfully got this European Institution to back a policy that would give Councils and Regional bodies the ability to contribute directly towards the Paris Climate Change targets without referring to their National Governments.

“Currently all action to reduce carbon emissions goes through National Governments through a system of ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’.” said Councillor Cooper “My proposal is to establish Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions where Councils and bodies below National Governments could establish their own targets and produce plans to implement them.”

Now Councillor Cooper’s initiative has been passed at the European Level, the EU Committee of the Regions is taking it as one of their principal proposals to the COP23 Global Climate Talks in Bonn this month. Councillor Cooper will be attending the Summit of Local and Regional Leaders and will seek to get the policy inserted into the Summit Declaration.

“Adopting this policy will provide a way for State Governments in the USA to produce plans to reduce carbon emissions without seeking the permission of their President. We cannot allow the illogical and unscientific approach taken by President Trump to go unchallenged. This is a way he can be side stepped and give those politicians who take a rational approach in the USA the policies they need to make the action they take at the local level count towards international climate change targets.”

Councillor Cooper also explained the benefits of the policy for Councils in the UK

“This proposal is also very relevant to us in Kirklees. Action we take at the local level, such as mass insulation schemes, installing LED Streetlights or tree planting projects would not currently be taken into account in the UK Government’s Carbon Reduction Plans. Under my proposal any action we take to reduce carbon emissions would be taken into account and make it easier to achieve our challenging targets to reduce global greenhouse gases.”

The Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders will be held on 12th of November with the Summit Declaration being announced at the end of the day.

ENDS

A Briefing Note on Locally Determined Contributions
EU Committee of the Regions backs Local Targets on Climate Change

Contact

Councillor Andrew Cooper – Mobile - 07721 348619        Email – andrew.cooper@greenparty.org.uk

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Barry Sheerman on Brexit and Education

Every now and again someone will see me making a cup of instant coffee. I open the jar of granules and pour an unmeasured amount into the mug. " Why don't you use a teaspoon?" is often the question I'm asked. "I'm a politician and for me judgement is everything" is my usual 'smart arsed' reply.

Judgement was on my mind today as I watched Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman on The Sunday Politics. He said

"The truth is that when you look at who voted to Remain most of them were the better educated people in this country."

At one point the exasperated BBC Interviewer said "So thick people voted for Leave?"

Barry's defence was a bit feeble "I didn't say that".  No he didn't but he did!

The problem with referencing voters level of Education when looking at how people vote is that there is an implication that if you had your way that only people who had the right qualifications should be allowed to vote. Of course Barry Sheerman would rightly protest that this is not what he believes but then you would have to question his judgement at strongly making the link between education and the political choices voters make in the first place. There is an implied disrespect for those people with no or low qualifications. These are some of the people who may even have voted Labour and for him at the last General Election.

The facts are that there is a strong correlation between those people who voted Remain and educational attainment but so what? One of the many failures of the Remain Campaign was in not making its message accessible enough to convince a wide range of voters whatever OLevels/GCSE'/A Levels/Degrees they acheived. The Leave campaigns success was in making a difficult subject accessible to many different sorts of people. Admittedly it was misleading them but then their arguments were accessible nonetheless. Where is our £350 million/week extra for the NHS btw?

Education and Brexit featured in the Daily Mail this week as well. I was reading a copy in the Dentist and came across the headline "In their own telling words. How Academics push Remain propaganda".  My admittedly glib  tweet in response was " In other words why do people who know stuff oppose Brexit?". It also sinisterly asked students to 'shop' lecturers who may be 'guilty' of such 'crimes'. I guess the Mail would regard them as 'Enemies of the People'. Here we are seeing a strange education snobbery in reverse where the contempt for 'the Intellectual' and 'the Expert' is regarded as legitimate. For someone who favours moderate language in politics I find it hard not to make links between the Daily Mail and Fascism on frequent occasions.

So education snobbery was everywhere this week. If you were educated your views were suspect to the Daily Mail. If you were uneducated your views may be less valid than if you were educated to Barry Sheerman. Ultimately whether you are a politician or a voter the choices you make are all about judgement and weighing up the pros and the cons. The job of politicans is not to judge the voters but to give them the information that they need to make sound judgements themselves.

Here's Pink Floyd  - Another Brick In The Wall - "We don't need no education etc...."


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Kirklees prepares for Zombie Apocalypse or something like that.



This week a generator was installed in the new blockhouse adjacent to Civic Centre 3 in Huddersfield Town Centre.

The idea is to make the building reslient as an HQ during a time when we might have a major loss of electrical power. When unexpected events happen the Council together with the Emergency Services will stand ready to react and as the lights go out across Huddersfield the Civic Centre will stand as a shining beacon of hope. Council Officers will be stoically working to reestablish Western Civilization/'start again' while surrounded by confused citizens wanting answers and reassurance. We will then see what happens next after the meteor/nuclear strike on Heckmondwike or a catastrophic flood, or extraterrestrial invasion or zombie apocalypse.

Disasters and social collapse are mostly of the serious but often mundane, day to day nature like the 'boiled frog' of climate change. The slow but perceptible nature of the change leads the wilfully uniformed/misleading to question whether it is actiually happening at all, but if we don't act it surely will.

The new 'resilient' Civic Centre is all about preparing for the reaction to a crisis. To prevent climate change we need to make all buildings resilient through insulation/ energy efficiency measures and making best use of onsite renewable energy (usually solar). That's not just good for the homes that have such measures but for wider society that is less reliant on dirty and generally imported fuels such such as natural gas and uranium. It puts more money in peoples pockets who have less to fork out for energy bills. This would be a good aim of public policy in so many ways but also ensures that when disaster does strike that half a million people don't turn up at Civic Centre 3 to try to get their phones and electric toothbrushes recharged.

Here's 'Its The End of The World as we know it' by R.E.M.



                                                                                               

Monday, 23 October 2017

Locally Determined Contributions - the view of the UK Government

With Jenny Jones at Croftlands, Newsome in 2014
I asked my friend Jenny Jones (or Baroness Jones of Moulsecomb) if she would ask the following Parliamentary Question to the Government so I could test the waters on my Locally Determined Contributions proposal to get Local  and Regional Governments around the world to contribute emission reductions towards the Paris Climate goals.

This was the question:-


To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will support the proposal by the EU Committee of the Regions to establish locally determined contributions and regionally determined contributions to the greenhouse gas emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The response was very interesting

UK greenhouse gas emission targets under the EU framework and our domestic Climate Change Act cover the whole of the UK. Devolved Administrations and Local Authorities also already have their own emissions targets and ambitions, and with wider actors in the UK, have an important role to play in contributing to UK emissions reductions.

The reason the response  was interesting was because it just wasn't true. Local Councils don't have emission targets unfortunately and many are too busy dealing with the day to day job of delivering basic services with massive funding cuts to have higher ambitions on climate change. So as it wasn't true I thought it warranted another question.

 To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 15 February (HL5165), what are the greenhouse gas emissions targets, broken down by local authority; and what assessment they have made of progress against each of those targets over the last seven years.

and the response


Local Authorities are not mandated to have greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. However, many cities and places have set their own targets following the Paris Agreement. Over 30 places are members of international agreements such as the Covenant of Mayors and, within the UK, over 70 places have now signed up to UK100 with a political commitment to use 100% clean energy by 2050.
"Over 30 places" well there are 418 Principal Councils in the UK so  it is hardly a comprehensive list of Local Authorities that are signed up to the Covenant of Mayors and clearly the second answer from Lord Brampton contradicts his first answer. The UK 100 mentioned has a worthy aspiration but I doubt that many councils have any detailed plans about how they will actually acheive this. I'm guessing they will be hoping national strategies deliver this for them. My conclusion is that there is still a strong case for adopting Locally Determined Contributions in the UK and the Government would lose nothing by recognising that too. In fact it may help them acheive their Nationally Determined Contributions towards the Paris Climate Agreement.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Major 'own goal' by North Yorkshire Police at Kirby Misperton Fracking site


Kirby Misperton the Fracking Frontline

Today marked the first 'Green Friday' trip to Kirby Misperton where the Green Party & the wider Green Movement are being mobilised to support the Prrotectors at the Habton Rd Fracking site. 

There was a major own goal by North Yorkshire Police by not allowing the request for a slow walk by protestors in front of one of the lorry convoys today on their way into the site. By not allowing people their right to peacefully protest North Yorks Police unequivocally put themselves on the side of Third Energy and against the right for people to legally demonstrate their opposition. Instead people were effectively 'kettled' and risked arrest if they moved outside the police cordon. Police on the ground appeared to be ready to facilitate the request but were overruled by their remote commanders demonstrating their poor leadership. Not their finest hour but sadly not their worst either at KM. They have effectively 'upped the temperature' by taking a draconian approach that overtly favours the Fracking company. 


'Tea Lady' Jackie Brookes on the left with frien
Of course the temperature is already high with several arrests following 'lock ons' and towers constructed outside the entrance to the site with protestors atop. The arrest of the 79 year old 'Tea lady' Jackie Brookes has gained worldwide coverage and done nothing to help North Yorkshire Police's reputation for having a heavy handed approach to dealing with objectors to Third Energy's plans. Today's request for a 'slow walk' protest in front of the lorry convoy with police consent offered them a chance to repair their reputation. It was sadly ignored. All that will occur as a result is a renewed resolve by those opposing the Government's plans.

The cost of policing at the Fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire has been estimated at £450'000/month. With the heavy and excessive police presence we saw today then we would expect a similar figure for Kirby Misperton. There are enough reasons to oppose Fracking in its own right, but now we have the waste of   millions of pounds of police resources protecting corporate interests that threaten our environment and our communities as well.

The Kirby Misperton site is expected to commence Fracking within days and is the frontline in the battle against corporate greed, climate change and threats to our fundamental liberties. People of goodwill need to act and get themselves up to Kirby Misperton as soon as possible and as often as possible.
With Carolyn Popple, one of the Core Group of No Fracking Way walkers from March this year
Outside the entrance to the Fracking site





Wednesday, 18 October 2017

First look at the new Mount Pleasant Primary School at Lockwood

Pupils from Mount Pleasant School in Lockwood will be moving into their new School  on the Thursday after half term. It has been built adjacent to the old school which will be demolished over the coming year. The old school  was a 'mish mash' of Victorian buildings with 70's and 80s extensions. The roof leaked badly and frequently despite several patching up attempts. I've seen the new school grow in my role as one of the School Governors. Today myself and Cllr Julie Stewart Turner got a good look round and it is impressive and will be a much improved teaching environment for a school which is performing well.
The new Mount Pleasant Primary School
The School Hall with Headteacher Naeem Nazir on the right
All classrooms equipped with smart boards


Artists impression





New School  on the left old School on the right

New classroom looking out on the old school



Friday, 13 October 2017

Speech to the EU Committee of the Regions on Locally Determined Contributions to address Climate Change



After a lengthy process my Opinion to the EU Committee of the Regions on the EU Environmental Implementation Review was dealt with in a few minutes. The clause on establishing Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions to tackle Climate Change was opposed by a minority of groups but people within both those groups worked on my behalf to argue for them for which I am very  grateful. The votes on 3 amendments to the report ( 2 of which sought to remove LDCs/RDCs) were defeated. Now LDCs/RDCs will be a key message of the EU Committee of the Regions as we work towards the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn in November. Onwards.

Lockwood footpath cleared of vegetation

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Councillors Julie Stewart Turner and Karen Allison's visit to Newsome Junior School

Councillors Julie Stewart-Turner and Karen Allison visited Newsome Junior School to answer questions from pupils today as part of Local Democracy Week.









Tuesday, 10 October 2017

EU Committee of the Regions backs Local Targets on Climate Change

The EU Committee of the Regions, (the body that represents the views of Local and Regional Government in the European Union) today backed an innovative new way of giving Local and Regional Government the ability to contribute directly towards the Paris Climate Goals that were agreed 2 years ago.

The Carbon Savings agreed as part of the COP23 Paris Climate Agreement were made up of Nationally Determined Contributions where national Governments decided what level of carbon savings they could commit to. It has become clear that the emission reductions agreed are not sufficient to limit the rise in global temperatures rise to 1.5 to 2 degrees risking runaway climate change on a global scale.

The proposal by Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper is to establish Locally Determined Contributions which will enable Councils and Regional bodies around the world the ability to produce their own carbon reduction plans to contribute directly into the Paris Climate goals. This could help bridge the gap between the carbon savings so far identified and those that we need to limit climate change to survivable.

Councillor Cooper said,

“I am really pleased that the EU Committee of the Regions has got behind this proposal today. We can now take this forward to the COP23 Climate Change Summit in November and see if we can get it accepted as a global proposal empowering Local and Regional Governments around the world to take action on climate change.

 As a UK member of the EU Committee of the Regions if we can get Locally Determined Contributions adopted as a global concept then it will be applicable to the UK, Brexit or no Brexit

Another benefit of this proposal is that it enables Individual States in the USA the ability to act on climate change despite the Trump Presidency’s decision not to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement. 

The EU Committee of the Regions will use its contacts with the US Conference of Mayors to ensure local action works for global benefit happens regardless of the opinions of the US National Government”.

Briefing Note on Locally Determined Contributions

Monday, 9 October 2017

PRESS RELEASE Eagle eyed Parish Councillors save Kirklees Library Service £12,000


Kirkburton Parish Councillors Steve Beresford and Robert Barraclough have saved Kirklees Library Services £12,000 by spotting on omission on Kirkburton Library’s finances.

 Parish Councillor Steve Beresford noticed that Kirklees had not claimed Rural Rate Relief on Kirkburton Library for the last 2 years and asked fellow Parish Councillor Robert Barraclough to take it up with Kirklees. Robert raised the issue with Kirklees Councillor Andrew Cooper and the error was quickly rectified and the money claimed back by Kirklees officers.

Robert Barraclough said “Credit to Steve Beresford. As a former Kirklees Senior Finance officer he has the background and the knowledge to spot these sort of errors. The rural rate relief is vital to ensure we have a strong business case for retaining Kirkburton Library as a viable and valued local facility. We now need to get on with ensuring its future is secured for our local communities”


Kirklees Councillor Andrew Cooper said, “I’m glad this issue has now been rectified and I am told systems are now in place to ensure this issue doesn’t arise again. These mistakes will happen with large Government cuts to Kirklees budgets and experienced staff disappearing on an almost daily basis. I’m glad that there are Parish Councillors like Steve and Robert doing positive thing like this to keep money in rural areas in difficult financial times.”

Public Use Piano for Huddersfield Railway Station

Really pleased my idea to get a public use piano for Huddersfield Railway Station has become a reality.

The piano has been donated by Chas Ball who chairs the Board of Marsden Jazz Festival and was the Green Party Candidate for Colne Valley in the 2015 General Election. It was a conversation with him and the Huddersfield Station Manager Andrew Croughan of Transpennine that made this happen.

I've seen pianos for use by commuters being played at Sheffield, Leeds and London St Pancras Stations and I was impressed by how they gave a showcase for local talent and entertained people on thier way to and from work. Huddersfield is a musical town with the Contemporary Music Festival, the Mrs Sunderland Music Competition and a plethora of music groups from a thriving Youth Music culture to well established groups such as Huddersfield Choral Society. Having a piano in one of the busiest railway stations in Yorkshire will provide entertainment  to thousands of travellers and be a new element to the musical culture of our Town.

Talking to the Station staff it really adds something to their day. They see a commuter walk towards the piano and wonder what tune might appear. One morning during the busy commute to work someone sat down and played the theme to 'The Walking Dead'. I guess there was some irony there.

I'm now thinking about other places in Huddersfield we might have public use pianos. Any ideas?

Huddersfield Station Piano being played to help launch Marsden Jazz Festival





Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Return to Kirby Misperton

Feeling a bit nostalgic today as I headed back to Kirby Misperton for the first time since beginning the 120 mile No Fracking Way trek there in March. Going along the same roads we walked when we began the walk and when I was quietly wondering what I'd let myself in for.

Today was a positive day. Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley was doing a visit to the Fracking site to lend his support the dedicated band of anti fracking Protectors (not just Protestors). What was very apparent was the excessive police presence on site. They lined up outside the gated entrance to the Fracking site and we lined up alongside them for a photocall with Jonathan. On a whim I suggested a Mexican Wave and said once the wave had got to the end of the protectors then the Police might want to join in once it reached them. We tried it a couple of times but they weren't playing and stubbonly stood there with their arms folded. "Boo! You're no fun!" To be fair I guess they were just trying to be 'professional' but they could have lightened up a bit.

Despite the lack of Mexican Wave participation today was not a day when relations between the Police and protestors were at a particularly low point. We've seen some real lows at the Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool and also with the first arrests at Kirby Misperton. Some of the policing has been videoed and has been, lets say, 'heavy handed' and definitely out of proportion to, what have been predominantly peaceful protests. This Policing has to be expensive and is being bankrolled by central government in these times of limited public funding. I asked one of the Police what he would be doing if he wasn't here today and he told me he would be dealing with day to day issues such as domestic violence, attending burgalry scenes etc.

The Scottish Government  successfully voted to ban Fracking today further demonstrating that the United Kingdom is far from united on yet another issue. This further fuels my, admittedly unrealistic, fantasy of Yorkshire becoming annexed to an Independent Scotland free of dominance by largely southern based, public school educated Tories. We are having to fight our London based Government here while the Scottish people are supported in their opposition to Fracking by their Government. Just doesn't feel right.

There is real opposition to Fracking from people across the political spectrum. The Conservative Government is out of touch even with its own electoral base on this issue. A large number of the people there today were retired and some had definitely not been active campaigners before. Fracking is producing a new form of useful productive energy, but it is not what was intended. It is people power and it will grow.