Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Campaign to Save Courts Success

Local Greens have been campaigning to save our local courts. It is good news that Harlow Magistrates Court has been saved from the axe when it may have gone the way of Epping Magistrates and Harlow County Courts which the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government havem in their less than infinite wisdom, decided to close. Both Harlow courts were well used, it seems totally stupid to not keep both open. Justice will now be served, in many cases, in Chelmsford in new extension project.  Greens believe in localism and fostering strong communities which means justice should be as local as possible and while we very much welcome the decision to keep Harlow Magistrates Court open we deplore the decision to close Harlow County and Epping Magistrates Court.

Students can join Young Greens for free!

Feel let down by other politicians’ lack of support for young people and students? The Green Party supports free education for all.
Students of any age can join the Green Party for free until 1st Jan 2011 (and you are eligible for this offer if you are under 30 too). 400 have already done so in the last few days!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Greens only party to fight for free education

I have kept out of this debate, but now feel I should add my two pence worth. It is clear that the Con-Dem governments wish to push up tuition fees and this will hurt the very people, those on low incomes, who could benefit most from a university education and saddle them with huge debts. This is thus a regressive not progressive move. While the few Lib-Dems MPs who kept their pledge are praise worthy as are the Tories who on principle are against this fee rise I am appalled by all the Lib-Dems who have gone into the voting lobby to vote this regressive move through and break such a firm pledge. If I were a principled Lib-Dem I would seriously think of joining another party.
Earlier this week, Green Party Leader and Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas, co-sponsored an Early Day Motion (EDM 1130) with Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, calling for the vote on raising tuition fees to be halted, noting that “the government has failed to convince many people that its proposals will be fair and sustainable” (1).  She also co-sponsored an amendment to the Government’s Tuition Fees Motion to the same effect.
The government’s plans to saddle young people with huge debts, and to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance which has been so successful in enabling more young people to stay on in education, are hugely destructive, and completely unnecessary.
Caroline said “There are alternative ways to fund education, including a more progressive taxation system.  For example, a business education tax levied on the top 4% of UK companies, as proposed by the University and Colleges Union (UCU)(2), would require business to pay its fair share for the substantial benefits it receives from higher education.”
“Raising corporation tax to the G7 average would generate enough annually to abolish tuition fees, and increase UK investment in higher education to the average for other comparable countries, while leaving 96% of companies in the UK unaffected by the change, and still leaving the UK’s main corporation tax below that of France, Japan and the US.”
Caroline Lucas continued:
“The Green Party believes that education is absolutely vital for people to be able to participate fully in society, and as such, access to learning should be as democratic as possible, with no person made to feel excluded by prohibitively high costs.”
It is all very well for Vince Cable to say there was no other way but putting it quite simply there is. If you want to protect free education the Green Party is only sensible option. 

1. Research published by university think-tank million+ and London Economics suggests that the majority of students (60-65%) will be worse-off under the new proposals, and that social mobility and participation will also be adversely affected, “Fair, progressive and good value?”, (30 November 2010),  

2. “In place of fees: time for a Business Education Tax?” (10 March 2010),  

Core Planning Strategy: Consulation?

I am very concerned about Epping Forest District Council’s current consultation exercise regarding the new Core Planning Strategy. I know of one person who has had a leaflet through his door, but I and many others (some of whom have no access to the internet, I may add) have not.  There has also been a travelling exhibition which is nothing more than the leaflet over several panels: when I went to see it nobody at Loughton Library knew it was there, not even the lady who worked for Epping Forest District Council! I found it eventually through trial and error. There are also consultation workshops: our local one was on 2nd December and yet without the leaflet many people would not know it is happening at all. I feel the minimal amount of effort has been put into this, and yet this is highly important as it will determine council attitudes to development over the next 20 years. We want to protect green spaces, and have a say where houses, schools and other infrastructure projects go. We are often unhappy about planning decisions and when we have a chance to have a say the council seemingly wants as few people to contribute as possible!