Why Siemens really isn’t the answer.

The prospective contract with Siemens came up today in a pre-election radio debate. No doubt all councillors would rejoice if and when a contract may finally be signed.

On the face of it, it seems fantastic: a major wind turbine developer coming to Hull, meaning excellent prospects for the massive, planned, Humber Gateway wind project (and offshore electricity for 150% of Hull’s needs). And, of course, 10,000 jobs – all touted for this area.

But there are problems with this: the actual factory will be 7-800 jobs. There will be knock-on jobs in supply but that means jobs across the country rather than Hull and area. And, really, over 9000 of them?? I’d like to see the breakdown.

Indeed, the arguments against it are a good example of the differences between the three parties and the Greens. A world where countries (let alone cities) go supplicant to giant multinationals, for them to choose a particular location, to provide what is a public necessity, is not the sort of world the Green Party fights for.

But there already is a real alternative! Green councillors on Kirklees Council have led the way for years with massive loft and cavity insulation schemes across Huddersfield. Many cities have copied these including Hull. However, Kirklees Greens have also led on solar power, raising money and investing in solar panels for over 200 dwellings. All these efforts have created over 200 local jobs, saved ordinary people over £5 million on bills, and now mean that 5% of Britain’s solar energy is produced in Kirklees alone!

So if you’d like a local authority like that one – then get voting Green!

Given the prospects of oil decline on the one hand, and the effects of fossil fuels on the other, major projects like Humber Gateway are the sorts of things we should already have in any number of locations around the UK. But we don’t. So yes, there’s a gap.

But there are serious problems with multinationals and it’s precisely because of the power they have been allowed to develop over decades.

Take Vestas – a Danish wind turbine company. What Vestas did a couple of years ago – protested by many people including unions and the Green Party – was simply to up sticks and move. They closed their plant on the Isle of Wight, sacked over 500 workers, and moved to America where there is more investment in wind turbines!

There is no control over what multinationals do at local levels and Britain’s successive neo-liberal governments are among the worst in Europe for questioning any of it.

This is why the Green Party favours growth from the bottom up. It means local companies employing people from the area. They would be producing energy largely consumed in the area, and, being smaller companies, would keep the money in the area. It means a lot more control and, if we went for Council involvement as the Greens want, it would mean a growing measure of democratic control too.

10 Reasons to vote Green in Avenue!

#1. Hull is among the highest for youth unemployment in the country.

The Lib-Dem Council is making the problem worse by making Council workers redundant and cutting young people’s services. A Green Councillor would do their utmost to challenge the government, the present Council response, and work with all committed parties to protect jobs and services. Young people should not be let down.

#2. The Con-Lib Coalition is unpicking the Planning system which has protected our environment since 1945.

The tool for this is the ‘Localism Bill’ currently in Parliament. This gives more power to big businesses and volume housebuilders. As usual with governments, they are focussed on the supposed housing shortages in the South East. Hull doesn’t so much have a shortage of houses, rather too many of its houses and flats are in poor condition.

Greens will work for a programme of repairing and refurbishing houses and improving insulation would:
– Improve living conditions for Hull people
– Reduce energy use and fuel poverty
– Make the best use of resources such as building materials
– Create work for small local building firms
– Create job and training opportunities in building trades.
– Improve the appearance of our city.

#3. The Localism Bill…

The Localism Bill currently allows developers to avoid legal agreements which require housebuilders to provide funding for public facilities for the people who will live in their houses (Section 106 Agreements). Hull City Council depends on such payments to provide and maintain parks, open spaces and children’s playgrounds. Your Green Councillor will do their best to ensure that developers pay their fair share towards the maintenance of Pearson Park and other open spaces.

#4. Zero Waste City

Hull Green Party welcomes the ending of the waste contract with WRG which would have involved building a waste incinerator. After the fantastic growth in recycling in the city, your Green Councillor will promote alternatives to waste such as the repair and reuse of furniture and household goods, more local recycling, and anaerobic digestion, while at national level seeking to reduce wasteful packaging.

Richmond Street allotments#5. Allotments

Hull has a significant waiting list for allotments. On Newland Allotments there are disused and underused plots which are too big. It should be relatively easy to sub-divide plots to make them more manageable. (Technically this is Newland area but some of the occupiers are Avenue residents. By comparison, Richmond Street Allotments are full).

#6. Make unused land productive

Green Party Councillors will help and support community groups who want to take over the maintenance of areas of land, especially derelict or under-used land, eg for growing fruit or vegetables.

#7. Grow your own!

Greens will encourage and help home growers to set to and grow their own, for greater ownership, self-sufficiency and to combat increasing food prices.

#8. Green spaces

A Green councillor will work to maintain and improve parks, gardens and public utilities. They will work to stop the erosion of green space. Pearson Park: Your Green Councillor will work to bring together all interested parties to seek funding for improvements to Pearson Park. The park is a central green hub for the area and could benefit from a serious bid for Heritage Lottery Funding.

#9 What would a Hull Green Councillor do?

Your green Councillor will look to gain Council support for applications for funding for the preservation of Britain’s last remaining civilian bomb site on Beverley Road and its interpretation to remind people of the effect of wars on civilians.

#10. Bike it!

Green councillors will fight to make city roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists (cycling is booming in Hull), work on providing more facilities and better, safer, integrated cycle lanes. Public transport is good in the city but still needs improvement to make it increasingly attractive, easy and affordable. Greens will work with providers on this.

Vote AV – for a game changer

Letter to the Hull Daily Mail, 12th April 2011

Dear Sir,


In addition to voting for the usual suspects, this year, for the first time ever, people have a chance to vote for a game changer, an actual, favourable, change in the system.


Voting the AV system in will mean we can vote for the parties we prefer, in order, on the ballot paper. This gives you more power as a voter. The AV system is already in use in most political parties and in trade unions too.


It’s not rocket science, but what it does allow is a voter to express your real preferences – rather than vote x to keep out y or “It’s only a two-horse race” etc. AV opens the system up a bit. And if your top preference doesn’t win enough votes, then your second preference will then count too.


Ok it’s not the system we really want, because we believe the people’s votes should actually be represented in proportion. However it is a step in the right direction.


AV keeps extremists out (contrary to some lies), gives voters a bit more power and will help end the “safe seat” culture more quickly.


So after Iraq, PFI, the creeping privatisation of health, the hundreds of billions given to the banks, the deficit being used to bash us over the head, record inequality under the last government, and increasing under this one, the rich becoming richer and being taxed less, the decimation of jobs and services in Hull, wouldn’t you like a little more say?


So vote AV on May 5th.


Martin Deane
Hull Green Party

http://twitter.com/martinjdeane
http://facebook.com/martinjdeane

It’s time to vote Yes to fairer votes.

(Stolen and hijacked from Rupert Read of Norwich Greens and given a shine :))

Our electoral system is unfit for purpose. It was designed for a two-party system and it can’t cope with a multi-party system. We need to fix it  and it’s time for electoral reform. It’s time to vote Yes to fairer votes. It’s time to vote Yes2AV, since the Alternative Vote is the change we need.

How is our current system broken? Being able only to crudely put an ‘X’ in one box just doesn’t work when you have three or more serious candidates standing for election.

In the 1950’s, 97% of people voted Labour or Conservative. That figure keeps dropping and dropping every year, not with just the Lib Dems but the dramatic rise of new political parties such as the Green Party and UKIP. We need a system that allows you to list your candidates by preferences, from 1 all the way down, so that you can vote for those who you support and against those who you oppose. AV is voting for who you really want to vote for – and being able to stop those you really don’t.

Our current system, called “first past the post,” (FPTP) means that you have to try to guess who is best-placed to win, and who you should vote for if you want to keep someone else out. The new proposed system, the “Alternative Vote” (AV) means that you simply list candidates in descending order of preference. AV really is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

That’s the core case for voting Yes and joining the countries that use AV in their national elections, such as Australia, India, and Ireland. AV is a modern system, an improvement on the antiquated, outdated First Past The Post system we currently have.

Think about it this way: If you go into a pub, and your first choice drink isn’t available, do you just walk out again? Of course not – you ask for an alternative, your second choice. But under First Past The Post, you don’t get a second choice!

FPTP means no second choice in the pub! But AV means a second choice if your favourite drink isn’t available – or even if it is but you fancy something different! Thank God that we don’t use FPTP when ordering at the bar!

For the same reason, we should stop using it for elections, too! FPTP is far too crude. But AV means greater democracy – it reflects your choices – plural – in the actual vote.

So:  The case for voting YES is clear. What’s the case for voting NO? These are the two main lines I hear:

1) “AV is good for extremists”

This is simply a lie that right-wing newspapers and the Prime Minister, to their shame, are spreading in their desperation to stop electoral reform from winning the day. The truth is the opposite:

AV is a far worse deal for extremists such as the BNP, than FPTP. Which is presumably why the BNP are vigorously opposing it. That’s right: Nick Griffin and his dreadful little-Englander party of racists are campaigning for a NO vote on May 5.

Voting YES to AV – a system in which voters can in effect work together to make life harder for unpopular, hated parties – will help ensure that the BNP never gets elected to Westminster. Moreover, if AV were introduced in local government elections, it would lead to the defeat of virtually all BNP councillors anywhere.

Under AV, you need to get 50% of voters onside to win. The BNP hardly ever achieve that because a majority of voters hate them. The BNP have only ever got one Councillor elected with 50% plus of the vote. Under AV, most people wouldn’t even include the BNP in their list. AV would shut the door on the electoral prospects of the BNP.

The other argument that I hear is:

2) “To hurt the LibDems, vote NO”

The NO campaign, understandably (given that they seem to have no constructive arguments at all) are trying to turn the AV referendum into a referendum on Nick Clegg. This is an unacceptably cynical way to treat a hugely important constitutional question.

But it’s also wrong. The Lib Dems will not necessarily benefit from AV. Under AV, you can give your first preference to whoever you want to win. The Lib Dems might gain under AV in areas where they are weak, as they will no longer be perceived as a “wasted vote” in those areas. But AV will also make it possible if you want to to put the Lib Dems bottom of your voting-order!

Moreover, under AV, the Lib Dems will lose some first preference votes in areas where they are currently strong, as people will no longer be compelled to vote for them ‘tactically’ in order to cast a vote that is not “wasted.” Losing votes where you are strong loses you seats, but gaining votes where you are weak does not. Ironically, AV won’t actually be particularly good for Nick Clegg’s party! AV is good news for democracy – but not good news for Nick Clegg!

To sum up: AV won’t heal everything about our political system. But it is a positive step and it represents real progress. This electoral reform offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help revive British politics.

Are you totally happy with British politics as it is? Do you think everything is going just great? If so, maybe you should vote NO to change on May 5.

AV is fairer. AV allows you to express your preferences and to vote for who you really want to. That will help small parties such as the Greens. But at the same time, AV helps stop extremists (such as the BNP), by allowing you to place them bottom of your preferences. AV is the natural next step forward for British democracy.

The Hull Lib Dem Cuts

1400 Hull jobs are expected to go. The unions warn this could rise to over 2000. Cuts include museum services where hours will be cut as well as opening times.

But the headline cut in Hull is surely the massive attack on Youth and Children’s Services.  1 in 5 young people in Hull live in poverty. 1 in 5 adults are unemployed.  School attainment is amongst the lowest in the UK.

The Council cuts mean young people in Hull will be affected by:

  • 32% cut in Children and Young People’s services.
  • SureStart: funding slashed by 50% (1).  Lib Dems technically not “closing” the 14 of 21 centres, but staffing and provision are set to be  minimal, the unions claim “a receptionist and a caretaker”! (1)
  • Unison estimates only 46 of 244 workers will remain. (1)
  • Connexions: 100% cut in careers guidance for young people. (2)
  • Young People’s Support Service cut 50%. Used by 1500-2000 young people every month, for help in finding a place to live, a job, education grants, etc. (2)
  • Youth Worker Training cut. No further provision to train youth workers. (2)
  • Looked-After Children’s Services cut — only two learning mentors to remain for the city. (2)
  • Family Group Conferencing cut. Help for families to stay together when crisis hits, and preventing youngsters being taken into care. (2)
  • Disability Respite cut—did provide short term breaks for disabled children and young people. (2)

Day Care Centres: NINE still threatened with closure …

Teaching Assistants cut: the Council has already made hundreds of TAs redundant and will cut back classroom support further.

It’s not as if Hull can afford more redundancies at this time, or that Hull doesn’t have enough unemployment! But this attack on communities and services cannot go unanswered which is why 5 Green Party members have put themselves forward as candidates:

Avenue Ward:          Martin Deane

Newland Ward:        Mike Lammiman

Myton Ward:            TJ White

King’s Park Ward:   Mark Gretton

University Ward:   James Russell

– If you can help, please get in touch.

Hull candidates in full.

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1. Guardian

2. Hull College SU