National Savings – the new Post Office scandal

I am very concerned at the recently-announced decision (1) by National Savings & Investments (NS&I) to deprive tens of thousands of its savers of the right to deposit their savings at the Post Office.
This is bad for the elderly, who want the security of depositing their money in person at their local Post Offices. Seven out of ten people over the age of 65 don’t have access over the internet and many people don’t like the idea of sending money through the post.
More than a quarter of a million savers have chosen the security of a cash ISA.  Even though these accounts pay a poor rate of return, they offer security. This is especially important for the elderly, who are seeing their savings elsewhere under threat or earning them little or nothing.
The decision will also further damage the Post Office network and rob it of more regular customers, at a time when the Government are describing the Post Office as potentially a “people’s bank”.
NS&I’s arguments hold little water. They say that that only 26 per cent of their customers use the Post Office to manage their ISA accounts: but what organisation disregards the needs of a quarter of its customers ?  They also say that few vulnerable, elderly people would be affected. How many old and vulnerable people have to be affected before it becomes a serious issue ? This appears to be another ‘slash and burn’ approach to operational costs, regardless of “less profitable” customers’ needs. 
NS&I is a Government-owned savings institution. The Labour Party was elected to supposedly improve the lot of the elderly. At a time when the Government is pouring money into private financial institutions, it must spare a thought for NS&I and its customers.

My latest touring…

I’m off to Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal this afternoon, weather permitting!
My key stop will be in Woodbridge on the Suffolk coast, to find out the issues and concerns that really matter to the local people there.
Last month, I participated in a 10 day tour of the Eastern Region where he listened to the views and experiences of constituents.  This Friday afternoon, I will continue this exercise at The Seal Public House in Woodbridge, and then elsewhere in Suffolk Coastal area.
I believe it is important that politicians listen to people, and so that is what I am doing.  We are living in testing times, both economically and environmentally, and finding out how the public feels, what they believe and what concerns them will enable me to help them more effectively if I’m elected as their MEP in June this year.
Then after that I am going onto Witham in Essex to join Greens there for a pub quiz this evening.
Tomorrow morning, I will be visiting Farmers Markets around Norfolk, including the Stalham and Aylsham markets.
I passionately believe in supporting our local economy, and this couldn’t be more important than it is today, as the region faces up to a gathering economic crisis.  I hope to learn how our farmers are coping and to find out how I, as an MEP, could best support them.  I recently raised a formal objection to Tesco’s planning application to double the size of their store in Stalham which would have an adverse impact on the local farming community, and I need to hear from them first-hand what other issues are key to them today.


I.e. I will attend Stalham Farmers Market (along with other Greens) from 9.30 am this Saturday, followed by Aylsham Farmers Market from around 11 am.

Four Months to go to the European Elections – Prospective MEP says Europe-wide Green New Deal vital as economic outlook worsens

Four months ahead of the European Elections, Prospective Green MEP for Eastern Region, Cllr. Rupert Read has called for a Green New Deal for Europe as a vital measure to halt the economic slide and to help to build a sustainable future.
Cllr. Read said
“I have recently been on a tour of Eastern Region, meeting people in many communities, and it is clear that concerns about the economy are widespread.
“Decisions made in the European Parliament could help Britain come out of the recession with a stronger, greener economy. Or they could do the opposite. So we need to send more Greens from Britain to join the 42 Green MEPs who are already fighting for a better economic future.
While the other parties talk green, they don’t deliver. A stronger Green voice in Europe can help divert funding from unsustainable roadbuilding and nuclear power projects into greener transport, green waste management, green energy and better insulation for our homes. By getting the funding for green projects, we’ll create more jobs per mile, per tonne, per megawatt and per pound.”

The Greens are pointing to worldwide demands for a Green New Deal – from the UN, from newly elected US President Barack Obama and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and from countries like Japan and Korea. But they are also warning about British politicians jumping on a bandwagon they are not really committed to.

Cllr. Read said
“In Britain politicians can be quick to jump on the bandwagon for the sake of popularity. We need to make sure real Greens get elected – the politicians who have been proposing these measures for many years, who really understand the issues and who are genuinely committed to action.
“In the proportional elections on June 4th every Green vote will count. It’s a brilliant opportunity to get more Greens into positions where they can help sort out the recession. The policies for creating new jobs and sustainable industries are the same policies we need to tackle the climate crisis. Its a positive, ‘win-win’ manifesto in these difficult times.”


1. Tomorrow, it will be exactly four months to go before the next major round of elections in the UK on Thursday June 4th at which voters will have the opportunity to elect their MEPs for the next 5 years and County Councillors (where these elections are held).
This will be a major electoral test for all parties, but polls show that increasingly, voters are becoming fed up with the “main” parties and are looking for an alternative.
The Green Party has consistently secured its highest nationwide vote share at the European Elections, with more than a million people voting Green in 2004. Every voter in Eastern Region and the UK will have Green candidates to vote for. 
The Green Party in Eastern Region is working hard to secure its first MEP, to join the 2 Green MEPs who have held seats in London and South East regions since 1999, when the proportional voting system was first introduced.
At the time of the 1999 elections, there were just 2 Green Party Principal Authority Councillors in Eastern Region. There are now 28, with the Green Group on Norwich City Council becoming the official opposition in 2008. There are also now Green Councillors in every county in the region. Since 1999, membership of the Green Party in the region has also risen.

Snow highlights over-reliance on travel to work [Media release]

Norfolk Green Party Questions Snow Disruption and Call For Urgent Measures to Help our Region’s Most Vulnerable
Norfolk Green Party has spoken out against the widespread disruption to Norwich’s transport infrastructure yesterday, caused by 2 inches of snow.  The Green Party has also re-emphasised the growing need for quality insulation in our county and our region, especially for those experienceing fuel poverty.
The Green Party candidate for MEP for the Eastern Region in the 4 June 2009 Euro-elections, Councillor Rupert Read, said, “The snow has shown how vulnerable Norwich’s economy is to its workers travelling excessive distances and how it can so easily break under pressure.  Most people would prefer to work within walking or cycling distance of where they live, yet because of a lack of joined-up thinking where planning is concerned, lack of affordable housing in the city and a tendency for investment in new jobs to be concentrated in Norwich rather than spreading them more widely to areas that need them, sadly for most this is not possible.”
Read continued, “The Green Party’s aim is to invest in new jobs where people live and create integrated developments that mean that more people can walk or cycle to work or school.  With today’s environmental concerns, we must question why a person living in Norwich travels all the way to Ipswich every morning, while someone else doing the same job travels in the opposite direction every day.  This causes unnecessary congestion and avoidable pollution, and adds a couple of hours to workers’ days, adversely affecting the quality of their lives and the amount of quality time they can spend with their families.”
Norfolk Green Party also renewed its campaign to help the most vulnerable people living in fuel poverty in this region.  Read said, “In 2008, the Green Party petitioned the government to provide grants to help people living in fuel poverty, including pensioners and families with children, pay their bills by installing solar panels in their houses.  We also called on the government to levy a windfall tax on the energy companies following their unethical price rises so help could be given to the poorest people in our society.  Today we Greens are stressing the urgent need to improve our region’s housing stock through insulation and other home energy measures.  More and more people live in fuel poverty today and the number will undoubtedly rise as the recession deepens.  Urgent help is now needed for the most vulnerable people in our society who will have to make the choice between heating and eating.”
Read continued, “Universal insulation is the best way devised to tackle fuel poverty and climate change at the same time, and like the Green New Deal – which tackles both the economic downturn and manmade climate change – the dual benefits of our policies cannot be overestimated. It is just common sense, not to have money in effect wafting out of the roofs and walls of our Region’s houses.”

Podcast III – Hopes For The Obama Administration

‘Rupert talks today in his podcast about how his greast hope for the Obama administration is not connected so much with Obama being a black President – it is easy for the system to co-opt outstanding individuals from hitherto excluded races, sexes, classes etc – but rather to do with the unprecendented and radical electoral mass movement that brought him to power, and may now hold America’s political system to account.’