Lead Green Euro candidate visits Witham Monday 7th April

Dr. Rupert Read, the Lead Green candidate for the European elections, visited Witham on Monday 7th April
 
Lead Green Euro election candidate in Eastern Region Rupert Read (1) visited Witham on 7th April to look at issues with local Green Councillors James Abbott and Bob Wright.

Essex County Council is currently consulting on Recycling Centres. Cuts to opening hours are likely and the number of Centres across Essex could be reduced. Witham has already had its opening hours reduced at an earlier “review”. There are concerns that further cuts will harm recycling and lead to more fly-tipping which will cost local taxpayers to clear as this is a district council responsibility. Picture – Rupert Read with James Abbott and Bob Wright at Witham Recycling Centre.

The County Council is also “consulting” on School Crossing Patrols. The current ECC plans are to make schools pay for the 54 patrols sited on zebra crossings if they want to keep them. But ECC has made it clear in a letter to schools that the WHOLE service could be at risk. The price tag to schools is nearly £6,000 a year per crossing patrol. Rupert Read is strongly backing Essex Green Councillors in their campaign to retain School Crossing Patrols in his role as Transport Spokesperson for the national Green Party.

Greens are continuing to press for rail improvements. A long-discussed passing loop on the Braintree Branch line could double capacity and lead to reduced commuter parking pressure at Witham. Picture – Rupert Read with James Abbott at the branch line just north of Witham station.

 
 
(1)
 
At the 2009 European elections Rupert Read was just 1% short of winning the 7th seat in Eastern Region under the proportional representation system used.  
 

Don’t cut the tube staff!

London Assembly Member Darren Johnson and Eastern Region MEP lead-candidate Rupert Read come to Epping Forest to campaign against tube office closures.

 

For photo opportunities join us at Epping Station at 10am, or in Epping High Street outside St Johns Church at 10.30am.

 

Darren Johnson and Rupert Read are to join Epping Forest Green Party members to campaign against London Underground Ticket Office Closures next Monday 7th April at 10am. They will meet with residents with a petition to save our ticket offices. Dr Read said says ‘the London Mayor’s, Boris Johnsons, plans to close all London Underground ticket offices and cut 950 staff are a big mistake. His broken pledge to keep ticket offices open has led to strikes and if Boris Johnson gets his way, passengers face disruption and a poorer service for years to come.’

 Closing ticket offices which are only used by 3 per cent of passengers does not sound much of a problem, but this translates to over 100,000 people a day needing assistance to sort out issues which machines can’t solve. Ticket offices provide a reassuring focus point where you know you can find someone – somebody to help disabled or elderly passengers down to the platform, to take charge in an emergency, to offer directions or help victims of crime. 

 

District candidate for Buckhurst Hill East, Steven Neville, says ‘No other party locally seems to be the slightest bit concerned about this. Only the Greens are standing up to the London Mayor’s plans. This will affect 5 out of 6 stations in our area. Yes there is some merit in the idea of using technology to make staff more accessible but this has not been properly thought through.’  Darren adds ‘With record numbers using the tube and a massive predicted increase in passenger numbers these cuts to staffing are unnecessary, unsafe and unworkable. I know that Rupert Read will make an excellent MEP who will stand up for the people of Essex on issues like this that really matter to them.”

Lead Green Euro candidate to visit Essex Monday 7th April:

This coming Monday, I am visiting Essex. I’ll start in Epping Forest in the morning; campaigning on cuts to tube office staff numbers alongside Darren Johnson A.M., who has commented today: “I know that Rupert Read will make an excellent MEP who will stand up for the people of Essex on issues like this that really matter to them.”
 
…I’ll then head to Witham:
I will visit Witham during the afternoon and will accompany Cllr. James Abbott, Leader of the Green Group on Essex County Council and County Member for Witham Northern, to view public facilities facing potential service cuts, including Witham Recycling Centre.
 
Conservative run Essex County Council has already made funding cuts to Youth Services and Children’s Centres and now is “consulting” on cuts to school crossing patrols and Recycling Centres.
 
The Greens have strongly opposed these cuts which are increasingly affecting Essex residents.
 
The Green Party has had 2 MEPs since 1999 and is working hard to increase its numbers at the European elections on May 22nd, which are held using a form of PR. Eastern Region is a key area for a potential Green gain, with me having been just 1% short of being elected in 2009, the last time the elections were held.
Since then the number of Green councillors and the number of councils the Greens are represented on has increased. In Suffolk and Essex a notable trend has been for Greens to win seats from sitting Conservatives.
 
…Finally in the evening I will address a public meeting on Europe hosted by Colchester Green Party.

Cameron’s flippant and ignorant response to smog is disgraceful says Green MEP

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has sought to avoid taking any blame for the smog currently hitting the UK.

 

In an interview BBC1 Mr Cameron said:

 

I didn’t go for my morning run this morning. I chose to do some work instead. You can feel it.

But it’s a naturally occurring weather phenomenon. It sounds extraordinary, Saharan dust, but that is what it is.”

 

Mr Cameron’s comments come despite officials from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs saying that the UK’s pollution problem was partly to blame. Yesterday a Defra spokesperson said:

 

“The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara.”

 

Keith Taylor, a Green Party Member of the European Parliament and Clean Air Campaigner, responded to David Cameron’s comments. He said:

 

“In the last 10 years nearly 300,000 people have died because of air pollution in the UK, that’s the equivalent of a city the size of Newcastle.

 

Yet, despite the ongoing threat of air pollution and the fact that the EU is taking legal proceedings against the UK on this issue, the Prime Minister has the audacity to lay the entire blame for the smog on Saharan dust.

 

We know that the dust was a contributing factor, and one which we have no control over. But the Government also know that 80 people die every day in the UK because of air pollution, and that we simply aren’t doing enough to tackle the smog coming from our cars and factories.

 

The Prime Minister’s flippant response to this invisible killer is utterly disgraceful. Officials from his own Government are saying that local air pollution is part of the reason for the smog we’re breathing in, yet he’s blaming it all on Saharan Dust.

 

The reason the EU is taking legal action against the UK is that the government simply isn’t doing enough to tackle the problem. We need urgent action on air pollution. That means cutting down the diesel fumes in our towns and cities, and investing in clean, affordable public transport options.

 

David Cameron needs to stop shirking responsibility and start taking action now on air pollution. To wilfully ignore this threat to our health is unforgivable.”

 

1) 29,000 people die every year because of air pollution: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317137020357

I’M FASTING TO END HUNGER IN BRITAIN

GREEN MEP-CANDIDATE’S DAY-LONG FAST IN NORWICH

PEOPLE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY HAVE
PLEDGED TO TAKE PART IN A FAST ON FRIDAY (APRIL 4TH) TO DRAW ATTENTION
TO HUNGER IN BRITAIN.

It’s organised by End Hunger Fast, a campaign
supported by the Trussell Trust, Church Action Poverty, the Quakers and
Just Fair.

Green Party Euro-election candidate Rupert Read will
undertake a dawn-to-dusk fast. For much of that time he’ll sit at a café
table at Rainbow Wholefoods in Norwich city centre. But he won’t be
eating any of the delicious food. Instead he’ll be speaking to
passers-by about hunger as he drinks only water.

Dr Read is soon to
publish a report on the use of foodbanks in the east region. It will
reveal:

    * There are now 39 food banks in the East operated by the
Trussell Trust, plus a further 16 non-Trussell food banks.

    * The growth of Food Banks is linked to welfare reform and to rising food
prices.

    * In the East, there are 33,622 people who are affected by
the Bedroom Tax, and 1,759 by the Housing Benefit cap. Of the 690,410
families who receive child benefit and are therefore affected by its
capping, 104,000 have three or more children to support.

    * Benefits sanctions have been issued in the East against 61,797 claimants between
October 2012 and September 2013 under the new regime, compared to just
under 19,080 for the region in the whole of 2008.

    * The average cost of welfare reform to a household has been estimated at £1615 a year (£31 a week).

    * Food prices have doubled in the past 10 years, according
to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). A survey by _Which?_
magazine in September found that 41% of people were experiencing
increased stress levels due to rising food prices. 29% of people were
struggling to buy enough food for themselves or their household. A
survey in 2012 by ‘Netmums’ found one in five mothers regularly skip
meals to provide food for their children.

    * Shockingly, the number of
people in the East treated for malnutrition has risen from 209 in 2008
to 331 in 2012.

Rupert Read said:

“By joining the End Hunger Fast
campaign on Friday I’ll be calling on the government to make sure that
the welfare system actually does its job of providing a robust last line
of defence against hunger in this country, that work pays enough for
people to properly provide for their families and that food is marketed
in a way which allows people to afford a healthy diet.

“The notion
which the government seems to have, that welfare recipients can mitigate
the reductions they’ve seen in benefits payments by finding work or
moving to a smaller home is true for only a very small proportion of
people. It is shameful that the consequence has been that more people in
this country are facing hunger.”

Details about the
fast campaign may be found here: http://endhungerfast.co.uk/

Government shares the blame for the smog, says MEP-candidate

The smog just Saharan dust, it’s from our cars and factories too, says MEP
– Green MEP lambasts Government record on air pollution

As Eastern England is hit by a wave of smog today the Green Party’s lead-MEP-candidate is calling on the Government to do more to tackle air pollution.

The smog is caused by a combination of local air pollution, particles being blown from Europe and Saharan dust.

A Defra spokeswoman said: “The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara.”

Rupert Read, lead Green MEP-candidate here in the East, said:

“We must not let the Government or local authorities hide behind the ‘saharan dust’ as they try to escape blame for a pollution problem that they’re failing to take seriously. 29,000 people die in this country every year because of air pollution, it’s high time politicians start taking responsibility.

Keith Taylor, the Green Party’s MEP for the neighbouring region of South East England said:

“When pollution levels are this high it is vital that people with health problems take it easy and follow government guidelines.

But, it’s also important that at times like this we focus our attention on those responsible for air pollution episodes. We know that part of the problem is caused by Saharan dust but we also know that the UK has an abysmal record in tackling air pollution in our towns and cities. The smog isn’t just from the Sahara, it’s from our cars and factories too.

The reason that the EU is taking legal proceedings against our Government over air pollution is that we simply aren’t doing enough to protect people from this public health threat.”

According to forecasts from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the levels of pollutants in the air in some parts of our Region will be at the highest level possible on the measuring scale.

Forecasts, available on the Defra website, show that pollution is set to be at ‘level 10’. At this level of pollution the Government advise people to reduce strenuous exercise and those with medical conditions to avoid activity wherever possible.

Last month Keith Taylor MEP suggested that free public transport should be made available on days with high pollution to cut the number of vehicles on the road. He made the proposal after the city of Paris provided free public transport to cut smog levels.

Mr Taylor also highlighted the international nature of the air pollution threat. He said:
 
“This smog, which is affecting Northern France as well as Southern Britain, shows just how important it is that we work with out European neighbours in creating laws that protect our environment and our health.

Here in the UK we need to take urgent action to reduce pollution levels. That means cutting the number of vehicles in our town centres, especially those with diesel engines and it means seriously investing in alternatives to travelling by car.”

ENDS

1)      The pollution forecast is available here: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/forecasting/
2)      Health warnings for air pollution episodes: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/air-pollution/daqi