Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Rethink needed on Library Opening times

I notice that we in Epping Forest are not immune to the cuts in Library Services. Luckily for us it is just hours that are being cut: my local Library in Buckhurst Hill loses 1 hour overall. However, for a number of residents the weekend is the time they get down to the Library. Saturday and Sunday were the days they used. Now none of our Libraries will be open on Sunday. For many this is awful and, to them, is a major cut. As it is, overall Loughton Library is losing 14 hours, Debden 8 hours, North Wealth Bassett 7 hours, Epping 4 hours; and Waltham Abbey and Chigwell escape with no cuts! Many poor and disadvantaged people rely on our library service to get books and it is a scandal that some of the biggest cuts hit many of these areas. Epping Forest is losing 34 hours in total. Sign the online petition to reduce the cuts in Debden and Loughton, especially.Sign the petiton

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Big Thank You!

I would like to thank you to all those who voted for Ben in Buckhurst Hill West on 5th May. We moved into 3rd place thanks to your votes, beating UKIP and Labour. In Epping Forest we Greens got our best result more than doubling our vote on last time and coming second to the Tories in 5 wards. We need to work hard and build on these results!

I would invite anyone who wants to do more to help getting Green councillors elected in our area to contact us via our website ( or ringing 07545 378553.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

20 is Plenty: Open Letter to Norman Hume

Here is a letter I sent to County Councillor Norman Hume, who is in charge of Transport and highways.

Dear Mr Hume

I am heartened to that you say Essex County Council is pleased to try out new ideas. I hope you are aware of the reduction in average speeds in Portsmouth by 7mph, where 20mph speed limits have been put in place (previous speeds were 24-29mph). I hope you are aware of a NHS report from the Directors of Public Health in the North West which strongly supports 20mph speed limits without humps or other traffic-calming measures. It is entitled “Road traffic collisions and casualties in the North West” and is at

I note too your use of guidelines from 1993 where you say ‘The legislation governing the introduction of 20mph speed limits is limited to streets where the current or average speed is at or below 24mph.’ This is simply not true. Firstly these guidelines are not rules, secondly they are out of date, and thirdly the guidance was for areas, not individual streets. Since this time we have guidelines from 2006 and 2009.

Your reply fails to recognise that today we no longer need to adhere to these guidelines and many local authorities do not. In Portsmouth the average speed was between 24 to 29mph where they introduced many of their 20mph speed limits. The 2009 Department of Transport circular states ‘“Early research from the area-wide 20mph limit in Portsmouth suggests that greater reductions can be achieved through signed-only limits where previous average speeds were significantly above 20mph.” I suggest you update your reference material.

In light of this will you reconsider introducing wide area 20mph limits to promote safety, environmental well-being and community benefit? I await your reply!
Yours faithfully,

Steven  Neville

Monday, 2 May 2011

Vote Ben Wille for Buckhurst Hill West on 5th May

I would just like say a word about Ben Wille, the Green Party candidate for Buckhurst Hill West. Ben is a teacher of Classics and Drama at Chigwell School. He has recently become convinced that the Green Party presents by far the best set of policies for improving the quality of life both on the planet as a whole and in our local area. He says ‘The mood amongst local people is that the Tory/Lib-Dem Government’s budget plans are not the only option. A mixture of intelligent investment and reduced tax avoidance would provide financial stability and at the same time avoid job losses and service cuts. People want these alternatives put forward at every level of government.’ If elected he will:
defend public services, work for more decent affordable housing and reverse the scandalous rent rise for those on social housing, and campaign for better public transport, walking and cycling facilities. It is clear that neither the Tories nor Lib-Dems can be trusted. Locally both parties have cut budgets. The Greens are the Real Alternative   - we are the only party that has consistently called for proper funding for further and higher education,  scrapping Trident, or demanding that the post office be maintained in the public sector. Labour introduced tuition fees and wanted to sell off the Post Office. Now more than ever is the time for a change from the tired old politics of the tired old parties. So on 5th May vote for Ben Wille.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Say Yes to AV

I just want to clear up some common misunderstandings about the Alternative Vote which are put forward by those who want to keep the highly unfair First Past the Post System:

1) "AV is unfair. With First Past the Post, everybody gets one vote. But under AV, supporters of extreme parties like the BNP would get their vote counted many times, while other people's votes would only be counted once.”
This is nonsense. It is like saying that if you go to a restaurant, and find that your preferred dish is not available because it wasn't popular enough, then you shouldn't have the chance to have a 2nd preference.. Each person has only a SINGLE Transferable Vote. It is interesting to note that the BNP are campaigning against AV.
2) “AV doesn't work. Rather than the candidate with the most votes winning, the person who finishes third could be declared the winner.”
Yes, of course, the person who finishes 2nd or 3rd ON FIRST PREFERENCES could become the winner - IF they get enough transfers from other candidates. That is exactly HOW AV works.  AV allows people to express what their actual preferences are, and thus be truer to their convictions. (It therefore also, crucially, allows smaller parties over time to build up their 1st preferences until they become contenders to actually win. This is how the Green Party has grown in Australia.)
3) "AV is expensive. Calculating the results is a long, complicated process (which would cost the taxpayer about 250 million for counting machines).”
Actually, AV would be barely any more expensive than FPTP: surely the very small additional cost - basically, the extra staff time to count the more complex ballot papers on election night - is a price worth paying for democracy. Indeed there is no need for machines, as has been suggested, at all.
4) “No one wants AV. Even the 'Yes' campaigners don't actually want AV - they see it as a convenient stepping stone to yet more changes to how we vote."
Well, it is certainly true that there are many Yes2AV campaigners who would in the longer term want PR, and it would be great, from their (our!) point of view to have AV as a 'stepping-stone'! Because yes, included among those many are we in the Green Party. It is relatively easy to imagine a chance occurring to have proper proportional representation, which is the Green Party’s favoured option ultimately, should we win this vote. AV is our preferred option, compared to First Past the Post.