Thursday, 29 September 2016

Get-together in Canterbury for new members and old



Canterbury District Green Party members got together on Wednesday evening, 28th September, for a get-together with new members.

Henry Stanton, our Election Agent and lead candidate for next year's County Council elections, gave an informative presentation about our local party and how we are applying the Green Party's Target To Win strategy. He also pointed out key issues in the District.

Nathan Tough, our Campaigns Manager, talked about why he joined the Party and what he hopes we can achieve locally.

Members then had the chance to socialise over some homemade hummus, biscuits and chocolate cake from long-standing member, Marilyn Sansom.


Monday, 18 July 2016

Buses for people, not profit - scrap Clause 21 of the Bus Services Bill

Clause 21 is part of the Bus Services Bill 2016. The Bill is currently going through the House of Lords and is, for the most part, very good. 

The Bus Services Bill would allow local authorities to: 

· set maximum bus fares 

· introduce joint tickets and travel zones, so you could use one company’s tickets on another’s bus – particularly useful if you’ve got a return ticket or need to change buses during a journey 

· introduce Oyster-style cards 

· set timetables and routes 

That’s all good stuff which we’d definitely support, especially given the state of bus services in much of Canterbury District. 

But there’s a fly in the ointment. 

Clause 21 

One of the most effective ways to do all of the above is for local authorities to run their own bus companies. Several have done this, returning millions of pounds back to public funds which would otherwise have gone to shareholders. 

Unfortunately, Clause 21 of the Bus Services Bill would specifically prevent them from doing that. Here’s the text of that Clause: 

21 Bus companies: limitation of powers of authorities in England 

(1) A relevant authority may not, in exercise of any of its powers, form a company for the purpose of providing a local service. 

This is a truly bizarre clause to slip in there, particularly given that: 

· public ownership of buses could save £506 million each year; 

· private bus companies outside London make profits of between 6% – 18% per year; 

· an average of £277 million a year goes to shareholders instead of services; 

· 40% of revenue to those companies comes from local authorities and national government (ie the taxpayer). 

There are currently 12 publicly owned bus operators. Among them are Lothians, which returned £5.5 million to the public in 2014, and Reading, which returned £3.3 million. 

What can you do? 

Clause 21 makes no sense whatsoever but it’s not too late to stop it becoming part of the Bus Services Bill. 

The Bill is currently with the House of Lords, with the next Committee Stage this Wednesday, 20th July. 

Petition 

The We Own It petition is online here: We want buses for people not profit

Please sign and share it. 

Write to a Lord 

You can write directly to Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon, who sponsored the Bill: ahmadt@parliament.uk

You can also email other Members of the House of Lords through Write to Them. This is a list of Lords who have mentioned Public Transport the most: http://efgp.org.uk/wttlordspubtran

The top few are a good place to start. 

The House of Lords has been surprisingly good recently so they might well remove Clause 21. However, if they don’t, we can still lobby for its removal when the Bill gets back to the House of Commons. 

In the meantime, please sign the petition, write to a Lord or two and share this page to spread the word! This is one of many issues which people aren’t generally aware of and, when they’re made aware of it, are flabbergasted by. 

Further information 

Most of the facts and figures in this post are from the We Own It website: Why buses would be better in public ownership

There are a lot of useful documents on the government website: Bus Services Bill: Overview

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Canterbury District Greens welcome families at Howe Barracks




The first families have moved into houses at Howe Barracks in Canterbury. Canterbury District Greens were out on Saturday, 2nd July, leafleting them with a message of welcome, useful phone numbers and a map of key locations in the local area. 

The Ministry of Defence gave up the lease on the properties last year and our own city council lost out in a bidding war with the London Borough of Redbridge to take them over. The far right group 'Angry White and Proud' protested at the barracks a few weeks ago and the families being moved here by Redbridge are likely to face further hostility.

In light of this and the political climate at the moment, Canterbury District Green Party wanted to show that, while we would have preferred the housing to go to local residents who needed it, these families are very welcome to our community. Many of them have been victimised and forced out of their homes elsewhere. They should not be blamed for the disastrous housing policies of successive governments. 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali talks about positive action on Canterbury's air pollution


Shahrar Ali, Joint Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, came to Canterbury on Saturday, 18th June to talk to members and concerned residents about ways of combating and reducing air pollution in the city. 

First and foremost, individual lifestyle changes need to go alongside council action to provide reliable alternatives to the car, such as improving the infrastructure for cycling and walking, as well as public transport. Imaginative reward schemes for using the bus and cheaper fares could form part of a solution. Employers can also contribute by encouraging flexible working, working from home, car-sharing and, of course, teleconferencing.

Shahrar talked about the way people have come to fetishise their cars. He quoted Marx on this: "The more you find value in external things, the less you find value in yourself." A culture shift is required whereby people feel proud of themselves for helping the environment rather than for having a flashy car. Buildings with an electric car pool, communities with their own currency, self-sustainability through reusing, recycling and repairing - such initiatives all contribute to radical changes of lifestyle which help to cut air pollution through the reduction in the use of fossil fuels and through vibrant local economies.

Simple solutions, such as signs at railways crossings to remind drivers to turn off their engines and benches at bus stops, play their part in the fight to improve our air quality.

Shahrar's visit galvanised his audience into a decision to set up a city grouping to fight air pollution. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Deputy Leader Amelia Womack campaigns with Canterbury District Greens


Deputy Leader Amelia Womack (centre) with Canterbury District Greens

Canterbury District Greens outside Canterbury West Station, handing out leaflets listing reasons to vote Remain in the EU referendum two days before the vote on 23rd June, were joined by Joint Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, Amelia Womack, during the afternoon rush hour. 



Thursday, 19 May 2016

Keith Taylor MEP joins Greens on Canterbury High Street


South East Green MEP Keith Taylor (centre) joins Canterbury District Greens on Canterbury High Street

Canterbury District Green Party met many people keen to talk about the EU Referendum at their stall on Canterbury High Street on Saturday, 14th March. South East Green MEP Keith Taylor joined local members to put the Remain arguments to voters. More than 500 leaflets were distributed on the day, as well as several membership forms. 

There was a lot of interest in the Referendum and, it seems, still a lot of undecideds out there. Canterbury District Greens focused their message on what the EU has done for air pollution and beach cleanliness regulation, which resonated with the people they talked to.