Become A Councillor!

Ever thought of becoming a local councillor? Perhaps you’re already involved in local affairs and want to take the next step? Or perhaps you just like the idea of doing something worthwhile and rewarding to help your community.

Most people stand for election as councillors under the banner of the three largest political parties: Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat. However, there is also a strong tradition of local councillors working as Independents, or as representatives of political parties and groups other than the three largest political parties, such as the Green Party. If you want to be a councillor, but not representing the Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour parties, this guide is for you…


…Closures “must cease immediately”
Eastern Region Green Party has conducted a survey over recent months of local post offices in the region.
Sub Postmasters and Postmistresses were contacted about the service they currently provide, what they could provide in the future and how important they considered Post Offices are to the local community (1).

98% felt it was important that their particular Post Office remained open, citing 11 different reasons as to why they felt this way. Many replied that they could provide a public and social service and that they were the eyes and ears of the community. They helped to combat fraud and would know if someone was having health or domestic difficulties and therefore could alert neighbours.

81% agreed strongly that the local sub Post Office provide a hub for the local community and 91% disagreed that the Main Post Offices are more convenient. 71% disagreed that Main Post Offices were more efficient at providing services than a sub Post Office. 69% disagreed that most people can get to a main Post Office these days.
Many added that the Post Office helped to support the vunerable in their community, e.g., the elderly, as there were no other amenities available to them compounded by poor local transport.
Many replies pointed out that Post Offices are a good source of networking which can encourage use of local trades and supply customers with locally produced provisions. 63% felt it was vital to their local community to encourage people to shop locally with 85% agreeing that local sub Post Offices were important because they avoided the need for people to use their cars.

55% of sub Post Offices surveyed said that services such as bill payments were very important and wanted to offer services which have been taken away, for example, 67% wanted to be able to offer TV licence renewals (previously a service they offered which has been taken away from them). Whilst is was recognised that accessing services via the internet and telephone was available, 92% agreed strongly that for those without access to computers, face-to-face help that the Post Office can provide should be available.

62% disagreed that the internet was better at providing most of the services you can get from the local sub Post Office.
Worryingly, the results revealed that 48% of the sub Post Offices surveyed are already between 3 – 10 miles away from each other.
Cllr. Rupert Read, Lead Green Party MEP candidate for Eastern England, said:
“Our survey results reinforce the strong feeling in local communities that Post Offices are a vital part of the social fabric of our society. Despite this, numbers are reducing year on year thanks in part to the deliberate actions of Government taking away services from them.
There clearly needs to be a stable economic environment for Post Offices to operate in, but the Government is failing to take full account of the hidden financial and social benefits of a thriving Post Office network in terms of a host of gains including social cohesion, health, combating fraud and crime and building sustainable communities.
The Green Party is fully committed to protecting our Post Office network and will continue to oppose further cuts. Closures must cease immediately.
Furthermore, we believe that Post Offices should be able to provide more services than they do at present. Our survey indicates that Sub-Postmasters and Sub-Postmistresses would like to be able to offer TV licensing and banking facilities – to help them become once again a true hub of the community. The Green Party backs this aspiration – we would invest in the Post Office network, not run it down.” 

If agrochar is the answer, then ask a better question


  First they sold us agrofuels: palm oil from felled and drained tropical peat forest continues to be mixed into UK diesel, leaving an 800-year carbon debt behind.    Now industrial biomass and agrochar [its advocates call it ‘biochar’, because that sounds nicer than what it really is] are coming of age.  Widely touted as the most promising geo-engineering ‘solution’, agrochar – industrialised agricultural turning of forests into charcoal which is then ‘planted’ in the soil – actually threatens to commit us to worsening dangerous climate change, bringing chaos to planetary life support systems including the rainfall cycle upon which global crop production depends.  

However, this is an extraordinary week for those concerned that ‘false solutions’ are exacerbating manmade climate change.  On Tuesday, George Monbiot wrote lucidly in GUARDIAN about the hype and misinformation surrounding agrochar, and just a day earlier I spoke at Green Party Spring Conference in Blackpool and helped to bring about an almost unanimous vote against climate geo-engineering ‘solutions’ which further imperil ecosystems, biodiversity and human communities. The motion that was passed particularly emphasised the risks of agrochar. The Green Party has led the way on so many other things, which were at first seen as ‘radical’ but that are not common-sense: so we hope it will be on this issue, too.

Last November, my friend and fellow Party-member Dee Rughani gave presentations on agrochar at NGO conferences in Berlin and Brussels.  Many of the big environmental NGOs were represented yet it was hard to find a single person who was familiar with agrochar.  The agrochar lobby had been working silently behind the scenes, managing to keep the issue outside of NGO discussions.  So successful has this approach been that less than a month later at the UN climate conference in Poznan, the ‘International Biochar Initiative’, uncontested, succeeded in lobbying the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to get agrochar included in the draft agenda for discussions at the Copenhagen climate conference this year.  Since Poznan, other regulating bodies are giving consideration to a proposal by carbon trading company, Carbon Gold, for agrochar to receive double carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism.

Expect some fairytale spin on this one.  Industry lobbyists have found the most profitable ‘climate solution’ yet! But their dirty secret is out; let’s mobilise now to nip this in the bud, and not repeat the same mistake that the world made in allowing agrofuels to take off.

Greens say ‘keep talking’ to save Norfolk newspaper jobs

I welcome reports that management at Archant has reduced the number of jobs it is intending to cut in Norfolk from 54 to 34. But I hope that Archant executives will try to further reduce this, to protect the quality of local newspapers.
‘It is good news that Archant executives have revised their plans for redundancies in Norfolk, but 34 job losses would still be a massive cutback of editorial staff. It would raise serious doubts about the capacity of local papers to provide a quality news service.
The recession is no doubt affecting advertising revenues but the company has recently anounced £22m profits. I urge Archant to continue talking with unions and to look for every opportunity to save further jobs.


…Green Party Councillors back CPRE report
Green Party Councillors in Eastern Region are backing a CPRE report (1) released earlier today which shows that the majority of regional transport funding is going on roads, and will be for years to come, and that road traffic levels have risen sharply over the last 2 decades.
Although it is not possible to separate out entirely the different types of transport funded in each region, CPRE have estimated the Eastern Region proportion spent on roads at 60%.
In the period 1993 to 2007, traffic (measured as million vehicle kilometers) rose by 29% over the six counties of Eastern Region, the equal second highest rise in England and with only the East Midlands being higher.
Figures from the Government (DEFRA) reveal that increasing greenhouse gas emissions from transport are cancelling out reductions in other sectors. Ministers claim that the UK can meet ambitious targets for reducing emissions yet since Labour came to power in 1997, UK carbon dioxide emissions have barely changed.
Cllr. Rupert Read, Norwich City Councillor and Lead candidate for the European Elections said
“The CPRE are absolutely right to highlight the fact that regional transport funding amounts to “road building as usual”. Policy has not changed and Labour is throwing loads of money at outdated road-building schemes that are not giving people transport choices but are damaging the planet. That’s why we in the Green Party have consistently called for a ‘Green New Deal’, investing to improve public transport – and cutting destructive road schemes.”
Cllr. John Matthissen, Mid-Suffolk Councillor said
“It is incomprehensible that Eastern Regional Assembly members are endorsing plans to carry on spending on road schemes when they have been advised by the Stern Report that we must invest in cutting CO2 emissions, and by leading scientists that preparations should be under way to adapt our economy to diminishing petrol supplies as the oil runs out.”
Cllr. James Abbott, Braintree District Councillor said
“Behind the green rhetoric of the authorities lies the truth – that it is business as usual – bigger airports and more roads, both of which are sucking taxpayers money away from sustainable development and at the same time leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions. In Essex, the latest price tag for a stretch of the A120 between Braintree and the A12 is approaching half a £ billion. Instead of looking at ways to make the existing road safer and relieve local villages, as the Greens have proposed, the regional planners, with the support of the other parties, want another gold plated section of Trans European Highway through open countryside. Meanwhile, long standing and widely supported proposals for improving the railways in mid-Essex sit on the shelf through lack of funding.”

AGE OF STUPID Director calls for Green government!

Franny Armstrong, writer/director of the Age of Stupid, is calling for a Green government, according to Alistair Campbell’s blog this morning…
This, with the climate crisis underlying other more apparent crises (such as the ongoing economic meltdown), is indeed an epochal moment in human history; it calls precisely for a sudden mass political switch to the Green Party, much as in earlier generations the Labour Party (before it became corrupted by New Labour etc.) sprang onto the Parliamentary scene from almost nowhere, and ended up giving us good things like the NHS.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the next big elections are the Euro-elections, in June: and these are by proportional representation. A great opportunity for the Green Party to get voted in…