Rail, not road

It is Green Party policy to re-nationalise the railways and to build new freight lines. An example would be from the new Outer Harbour at Yarmouth running inland. Where inadequate rail infrastructure exists, adequate infrastructure should be created. If we want to stop monster 60 tonne trucks coming to this country, we are going to have to invest in alternatives. Rail is the most crucial of these.
Ruth Kelly recently announced plans for spending £10billion on enhancing rail capacity in July’s rail white paper. However, only £200 million was for freight. Whilst capacity enhancement for passengers is absolutely essential, freight must be given a higher priority than it is currently getting. In total, rail investment should be much greater, at least £20-30billion for the next 5 years. This investment could be made by halting the government’s climate-dangerous road-building programme.
It is worth adding that the monster trucks that they want to bring here [see my post on this below] COULD include longer vehicles as well as heavier ones – by the use of trailers. Let’s create jobs in expanding rail — not in getting huger trucks than ever before trundling by our windows.

Some reflections on power and leadership

A political Party looks for power.

If the Green Party had more power, then ordinary people would have more power. Power over their own lives. Power which turbo-charged neo-liberal capitalism deprives them of
Political Parties and governments don’t have a huge amount of power, in these globalised days. They — we — should strive to attain all and use of it that we can. And thus GENUINELY empower people. Such empowerment surely means people being empowered. Not just sitting around talking and giving themselves a fantasy of control over their own destinies. ACTUALLY having more such control and power.
This recent Green Party referendum has created a Leader post. A Leader with more influence and more power — e.g. votes on GPex, and hopefully more research and secretarial support than our Party can afford at present, as we fundraise on the back of this change that the Party has voted for — than our Principal Speakers have been allowed. Our Leader being empowered by us to act and seek media opportunities and so forth will result in more power for us, as we come to have influence more than just at the margins, and eventually as people in our society actually start to be more empowered, through a more real democracy, less extreme corporate power, and so forth.
A sustainable society will be achieved reasonably fast or not at all. We do not have time for a glacial timetable — the glaciers would then all be gone, by the time we got any real power… [See my http://www.recycledart.org/node/11172 on this.] If we take an overly long march to power, then all that will be waiting for us at the end of the march will be deserts and war-lords…

Lead candidate’s report, Dec. 07

Working as lead European candidate for the Greens here in Eastern Region Green Party is exhilarating, and it’s getting more so all the time. There are so many new local parties setting up all over the East of England and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting such a wide variety of people. All these people are driven by thought of bringing a real positive difference to their local area by having Green Party members elected to their parishes, councils and (crucially) even to Parliament(s). I’ve witnessed the number of Green councillors in the East of England grow ever year since 1999. That’s why I know we’re on the brink of something very special here, and I am proud to be a part of it.

The excitement comes from knowing how quickly success can come when there are dedicated Green Party members, campaigning hard for the values they believe in. In Norwich, where I am a city councillor, the first two Green councillors were elected in 2002. Now, just five years later, we have 10 city councillors; just five less than the ruling labour administration. Norwich has already seen the benefit, with vastly improved recycling facilities (though still far short of our utimate goals), support for local shops and new carbon reduction targets. We are now only a few seats away from running the council – and all this in just a few years.

I can now see what started in Norwich happening all over the region. In Colchester for instance the Greens are on the verge of breaking through onto the city council, with Peter Lynn polling 32% of the vote in Castle ward in the last local elections. I have visited Colchester twice in the last four months, to speak to a local Party meeting and to help at a ‘Green Action Saturday’. The canvassing I did on the latter occasion convinced me that the electoral success of the Green Party elsewhere in the region is now about to be repeated in Colchester.

The Green Party now sits on more Councils in the Eastern Region than in any other region in the country. That is why we are now naturally thrilled about an additional prospect – electing a Green MEP to represent the East of England in Brussels. Much of our work involves changing things at the local level, but many of our policies urgently need be taken to an international level, such as serious measures against climate change and fairer trade rules (fair trade, not free trade, should be compulsory).

I was selected earlier this year as the Eastern Region’s lead candidate for the next European elections in June 2009 and I have already started campaigning hard. Caroline Lucas from the South East and Jean Lambert from London have already made great achievements as Green MEPs, including vastly increasing our media profile nationally from anything we had before. The elections are held using proportional representation, and with an ever growing number of Green voters in the east, we have every chance reaching the estimated 11% of the vote that we need. If we do better than this, there is even an outside chance that the second candidate on the list, Colchester’s Peter Lynn, could join me in Brussels.

All the time I am hearing from new activists from yet another city who are beginning their campaigns to get Green Party candidates elected onto their local authorities. By sharing advice and knowledge and supporting each other all these local parties are bound for success. The political landscape is changing and it’s an incredible feeling to be at the forefront. This is a feeling shared I believe by virtually all our activists who are investing their time in the Green Party because they can see now what we can achieve and the benefits it will bring. Whether it’s another elected councillor or someone delivering leaflets whenever they can, we are all realising the same dream.

Monster trucks alert!

60 tonne “Monster Trucks” may be coming to the roads of East Anglia…

The European Parliament has considered a report on freight logistics which failed to rule out the use of 60 tonne trucks across EU borders and left open the possibility that this could happen without Member States giving consent for their borders to be crossed.

As well as the obvious dangers to communities in East Anglia on recognised routes, the use of Sat. Nav. equipment and drivers not familiar with local roads will inevitably cause serious disruption when these huge and ultra-heavy trucks take a wrong turn and get stuck.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas has warned that the failure of the EU Parliament to rule out the use of 60 tonne trucks could lead to them being used across the EU.

In my view too, there can be no role for monster trucks thundering up and down our roads, guzzling fuel, damaging infrastructure as they do so. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Do we really want these mega-juggernauts on the roads of East Anglia, clogging them up, posing unprecedented dangers to pedestrians, cyclists and ordinary motorists, and damaging our road-surfaces without paying any compensation for doing so?

A rhetorical question.


What we do instead, to reduce the alleged need for these monster trucks?

Here are four key ideas for our Region, to start with:
* Eliminate the silly but climate-dangerous aspects of current
global trade – e.g. the great food swap between UK and other EU countries.

*The UK should only import what it cannot produce itself – good for UK jobs,
good for the global environment.

* Campaign for much better rail-freight facilities including a freight
line from Norwich out to the new Yarmouth outer harbour (Eastport) and
better freight connections from Felixstowe.

* Better rail-freight centres for distribution onwards by rail from
East coast ports at Peterborough (taking Eastport and Felixstowe goods
northwards) and Cambridge (taking good westwards — once the East-West link to
Milton Keynes and Oxford is built).

Vote for Sustrains Connect 2!

Readers of ‘Rupert’s read’ have for the next few days a great opportunity to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists at no direct cost to themselves. All they — all you — have to
do is to vote for the Sustrans Connect2 project in the Big Lottery Fund’s
£5 Million giveaway.

The public is being asked to choose between four projects. All four are
good, but one is somewhat influenced by the fact that only the Sustrans project will bring any direct benefit to Norfolk: specifically, through the construction of a path for cycling and walking to Whitlingham County Park, from Norwich train station.

However, the Sustrans project is a national project, whereas the other three are each in one
specific location. Furthermore, the Sustrans project is clearly the most green and sustainable of the four, and is particularly good in that it will support a large number of small projects around the country, rather than just being one mega-project.

The Sustrans project will improve routes for walking and cycling. This will enable more people to take more journeys on foot or
by bike, which will help reduce carbon emissions and bring health
benefits. It will also help car drivers, by reducing traffic and taking
some cyclists off the roads. This project will benefit everyone and
deserves everyone’s vote.

It makes perfect sense that this project is being voted on this weekend, the weekend of worldwide demonstrations for action to combat dangerous climate change. Here is one action that we can all take, that will help reduce climate-dangerous carbon-emissions.

I’ve already voted. You can vote too, at www.thepeoples50million.org.uk or www.sustransconnect2.org.uk . It only takes about a minute. Or vote by texting Connect2 to 80010.

Norwich rally for action to stop dangerous climate change!

Norwich rally for action to stop dangerous climate change!

Come and join us at Pottergate on the pathway and the green outside St.Gregory’s Church, at Noon precisely, on Saturday 8th December.

Norwich Green Party is organising a rally in solidarity with people who are gathering on this day in London and in every major city around the world to call for governments to take serious action NOW to rein in dangerous manmade climate change. For those who would like to be in London on the big march there, but who for whatever reason cannot be, this is the perfect opportunity to make clear your thoughts and feelings on this issue.

Bring banners or just bring yourselves to this short rally. There will be brief speeches from Cllr. Adrian Ramsay, Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, and from Cllr. Rupert Read, lead Green MEP-candidate for East Anglia; and then an open mike. [Note: Norwich Green Party’s annual Christmas Fair will this year be held at St Gregory’s church, Pottergate, on Saturday 8th December, from 10am – 5pm. Do come to that too!]