25 December 2016
With Christmas songs blaring on the radio, decorations beginning to flood through our homes and seemingly endless amounts of present wrapping taking place it seems only right that we join in the Christmas cheer. To put a spin on the '12 days of Christmas', we’re going to be highlighting ’12 reasons Plymouth needs the Green Party’.
The Living Wage is the topic that kicks off our 12 days. The Plymouth Green Party were pleased to see Plymouth City Council’s insistence in paying its own employees the living wage but city-wide it is vital we do more to encourage and push towards more businesses in implementing the Living Wage (which will be £7.50 an hour in in the city so we can move Plymouth away from a low-wage economy. The Plymouth Greens are the only local party with the ambition and drive to achieve such a feat.
It is vital for workers that the Living Wage is reached due to rising costs of living, especially in the uncertainty post-Brexit. There is evidence that productivity improves under the Living Wage and when people have more disposable income they are able to move away from relying on Govt benefits such as tax credits or housing benefit and in turn are able to spend more from their disposable income, benefitting the local economy in its own right. On top of this, public health is shown to have improved in areas where the Living Wage is implemented, meaning there are a whole host of different benefits to be gained from the policy.
On the second day of Christmas the Plymouth Green Party gave to me, the promise of a fair and consistent education policy.
The Plymouth Green Party (alongside the national party) are are opposed to private education and would support any moves to assimilate private schools into the state sector. We will also continue to oppose moves to transform state schools in Plymouth into Academies and would like all schools to be accountable to the local authority rather than central government. Overall, we believe that all children should be able to attend the very best local school possible. We want to see a good primary school, with small class sizes, in every community; and a secondary school, responsive to the needs of all children in the area, within easy travelling distance. A fair educational opportunity for all.
The Plymouth Green Party will supports teachers, parents and other professionals who argue that schools should encourage children to be creative and develop social and life skills as well as gain qualifications. We oppose the current use of SATs and phonics tests and believe assessment should be unobtrusive and in the interest of enhancing a child’s learning. Such assessment might include the use of value added results, school inspections and self-evaluation.
The Plymouth Green Party supports and encourages initiatives aimed at providing a range of opportunities of equal status for young people after the age of 14: including vocational training and apprenticeship-based learning. Massive expansion of apprenticeships, through green work force training and environmental community programmes, are possible ways of providing these alternatives. We believe that all educational processes and experiences should promote the need for a green and more sustainable society. We support and encourage the idea that schools grow their own food on the premises or through attending local community gardens which can provide valuable lessons to children in how to be self-sufficient.
To mark our third day of reasons that Plymouth needs the Green Party, our topic in focus is that of culture and leisure. This is a genre that has been largely neglected by previous City Councils, and so it is clear that only a fresh approach can help solve the issues.
As a party, we support the funding and opening of community centres and the organisation of community events. It is well established that communities with a strong sense of identity and who can interact and collaborate together are better equipped for the long-term future. It is vital community groups and projects are adequately supported by the Council. In turn with this, it is vital that the Counil is not selling off council owned assets like playing fields and sport centres, whereby we ignore a short-term cost and appreciate the long-term gain.
As a local party we support organising local festivals which continue to celebrate the wide diversity in food, music and culture in the city. We appreciate that events of this nature do already exist, but we want to commit to supporting them and then develop new and fresh ideas to celebrate Plymouth’s wide range of fantastic qualities. We will also stand up for local music and entertainment venues, following the recent closure of Voodoo Lounge and the threatened closure of The Hub. This has been an issue worryingly ignored by the current Council.
On top of this, we vow as a local party to continue to invest in the arts, museums, galleries, libraries and so on and so forth so that there is the possibility for all people in Plymouth to enrich themselves culturally to the highest possible level.
Our fourth day and the fourth reason why Plymouth needs the Green Party focuses on the topic of food waste.
Each year, tonnes upon tonnes of food waste in Plymouth is wasted into the incinerator. Not only are the vital nutrients in this wasted food going to waste, the environmental affects of the incinerator cannot be understated. Incineration has a number of negative consequences like the pollution of our air and the immense amount of energy that is used. Furthermore, the amount of energy used to incinerate often damp food waste is much higher than non-food-waste.
The Plymouth Green Party promotes a radical alternative. A far better system would be that of recycling our food waste. Food waste would be put into specifically allocated bins and taken to a central centre where it would be recycled. The nutrients from food waste can be used as composting or as a (also more ecofriendly) alternative to artificial fertilisers. While there would be a short-term cost involved in setting up the food waste system, these would be more than made up for over time and repay their short-term investment long into the future. It is 3 times as cheap to recycle food waste as to burn it, so an environmental alternative appears common sense, and yet no other political party in the city can offer it. On top of this, savings can be made on other bin collections since all food waste would be collected separately.
Finally, this radical approach could have fantastic effects for tourism within the city. The Barbican, for example, is a great attraction but could be so much more attractive without the constant overflow of food waste. These sorts of food waste systems are already in place in other cities but only the greens in Plymouth are committed to implementing it. It’s time we made the change, for people and the planet.
We’re now onto our fifth day and so our fifth reason regarding why Plymouth needs the Green Party. This time, it’s our stance on minorities and international students.
This is, with our current political climate, one of the most important things we as a political party must fight for. While sections of society and various politicians are drumming up more hate than previously seen, we must fight for what is right and fair. After a shock victory for Brexit and Trump in the United States combined with the rise of the far right all over Europe, it is becoming quickly more important than ever that there is a loud voice standing up for those who need it. That voice must come from us.
We condemn Theresa May’s deplorable refusal to allow EU citizens already living in Britain a guarantee of being able to remain after we leave the EU and we reject the idea of these individuals being used as political pawns. The Green Party, both nationally and locally, pledges to support not only the right for those in question to remain in the UK, but also continued freedom of movement as part of the single market after the event of Brexit.
The universities in Plymouth feature many international students who grace the city each year from a range of different countries. The Green Party appreciate their contribution to both their studies and to the city in general. We believe in an open Britain and an open world. We will reject isolationist politics and will stand with minorities wherever and whenever we are needed.
Frustration with the political and economic system is valid, but we must ensure that frustration is directed at the right people.
Our 6th day of reasons Plymouth needs the Green Party, regards that of animal welfare, an important topic that can at times go unmentioned.
It is vitally important that there is a political party that defends the treatments and uses of animals, and the Plymouth Green Party will do this. We support sustainable farming and plan to ensure strict welfare standards in order to achieve this. Industrial animal farming condemns millions of animals to short, brutal lives in barren factory farms and damages the environment, food security and our health; it cannot be justified - in Plymouth or anywhere else. We also strongly support the implementation of CCTV in all slaughterhouses.
On top of this, it is vital that we end animal suffering in terms of cosmetic products for human use. There is no excuse for hurting and killing animals for the sake of make-up, soap and other toiletries and we will fight as a local and national party to ensure this is completely consigned to history. We strongly support and encourage businesses locally to steer clear of the concept of animal testing for this usage.
Finally, we vow to fight against and end ALL blood-sports both locally and nationally. We will oppose all hunting with hounds, shooting, snaring, coursing and various other abuses of our animal population. We oppose the killing of, or infliction of pain or suffering upon, animals in the name of sport or leisure, and will work hard in order to try and end all such practices.
On the 7th day of reasons Plymouth needs the Green Party, we focus on housing, an important issue for so many people who live in the city.
Whilst we understand the need for and support the development of Student Accommodation close to the Plymouth University campus, when it comes to the number of affordable housing developments, Plymouth has been let down by both Tory and Labour administrations. To put it in its simplest terms, Plymouth needs more affordable housing, and the Green Party will always campaign for this. Until the housing crisis in Plymouth is solved, we will also stand up against and oppose vanity projects based around luxury housing, which although may be suitable for creating ‘positive’ news stories, they solve none of the issues that need solving.
Plymouth is blighted by the high number of empty buildings and empty houses, where we estimate there could be up to 3000 homes standing empty in the city. We will not only pressure landlords to ensure their properties are not wasted but also consider cost-effective ways in which we can revamp and restore empty City Centre buildings into living spaces which are affordable and energy-efficient. We also recognise the success of London’s Renters Survey, ran by Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry, and we will provide a platform for private renters and students to stand up against bad landlords who do not offer acceptable living standards.
We also know that the housing crisis we find ourselves engulfed in runs deeper than simply needing more affordable housing. At the Green Party, we believe everyone deserves to live in a warm and secure home. This is a right and not something that should push people into perilous financial situations. We will always strive to make energy-efficiency and the use of renewable energy as affordable as possible and ensure Plymouth City Council leads the way with this.
On our 8th day of reasons why Plymouth needs the Green Party, we explore an idea that has been successfully used in other cities across the South West and we believe would benefit Plymouth’s local businesses.
The Green Party supports the introduction of a local currency, similar to the local currencies currently used in Bristol and Exeter (ie the Bristol Pound). Our local currency would be bought with Sterling, and spent in local businesses in Plymouth. This ensures that money stays in the local economy and small, independent businesses in Plymouth would be supported.
This would encourage people to prefer local businesses who need the custom over multinational corporations whose profits are not kept in Plymouth but instead delivered to rich bosses and shareholders over the world. The Green Party wants Plymouth to stand on its own two feet, with a culture independent from that of other cities across the UK. We were the first political party in Plymouth to support the concept of a local currency and we believe that it will ensure that Plymouth does not become a clone city, but a city which offers real choice, vibrancy and stands out as an area where local business thrives.
It’s the 9th day of our ’12 reasons Plymouth needs the Green Party’ campaign. Today it’s one of the most important and topical issues around. Today, it’s the turn of public health.
In the face of Government cuts, it is the Green Party who truly aim to resist the privatisation of National Health Service provision. The city has major challenges which can be regarded as community responsibilities such as suicide, substance misuse, mental health sexual health. Importantly, it is local people who should decide what and how services are provided and should have complete flexibility to meet local needs as long as the services provided can meet minimum standards.
As a local party we will engage with stakeholders and make decision-making as accountable and transparent as physically possible. We will begin to form safer communities where air pollution is reduced and road safety is prioritised. We will tackle food poverty and its causes while promoting active, healthier lifestyles and diet. We also endeavour to improve all housing standards to tackle poor and unhealthy living conditions for the frail, elderly and vulnerable members of our city.
As Greens, we are aware that the best attitudes to have towards public health is that prevention is better than cure and that ultimately healthcare is not a commodity to be bought or sold. Health education and health promotion are major factors that the Plymouth Green Party will strive to improve drastically within the city to ensure the long-term stability of public health within the city.
On the 10th day of our ’12 reasons why Plymouth needs the Green Party’ campaign, we talk about community safety - an issue important to the safety and wellbeing of everyone in Plymouth.
The Green Party resists Conservative cuts to our police force and legal system, but also realises that merely investing in our criminal justice system isn’t enough. We oppose the mainstream consensus of authoritarian and unaccountable policing in favour of community-focused solutions that focus on rehabilitation.
For too long, political parties have focused on punishment that has largely been ineffective: for example New Labour’s ASBOs, which were disproportionately placed on young people with significant mental health disorders and were breached over half the time. The Green Party would like to introduce ‘restorative justice’ - where offenders would work to restore and improve the position of the victim and the community, rather than pointless punishment.
We also believe that the police force needs to focus its resources more wisely. Small-time drug use should not be treated as a criminal issue but instead a matter of public health. In Portugal, where drug use was decriminalised in 2001, deaths due to drug overdose have decreased dramatically. We also believe that those of us who are unfortunate enough to be sleeping rough should be treated with the respect they deserve.
Tory cuts to legal aid are irresponsible and wrong. For our criminal justice system to function, everyone must have access to a lawyer who can represent them in court. If someone cannot afford a lawyer and must instead represent themselves, the system is not befitting of a developed country like ours.
Incredibly it is already the penultimate day of our '12 reasons why Plymouth needs the Green Party', and today we look at local business. We believe that the government has the wrong priorities when it comes to business and we would like to see far-reaching change.
The Green Party opposes corporate welfare. For too long, multinational corporations like Amazon and Starbucks have been allowed to get away with paying very little tax in this country. If we were to properly tax these companies, we could put the money into the NHS and affordable housing that’s much needed in a city that is sharply divided between the haves and the have nots.
We also support improved environmental regulations on business. Large corporations cannot be allowed to churn pollutant gases into the atmosphere and poison soil and water - especially as Plymouth has been named by the World Health Organisation as one of the worst cities for air quality in the UK.
However, we also believe that small businesses must be supported. Our support of the local currency initiative would keep money flowing around the local, independent economy. We would like to cut the red tape put upon small businesspeople. The economy must change to focus around local businesses rather than multinational corporations and it is only the Plymouth Green Party who can achieve this.
As Christmas Eve begins to draw to a close, we are onto the last of our 12 reasons why Plymouth is in need of the Green Party. We end our campaign with the issue of the environment. With this set to be the hottest Christmas ever in many parts of the world, the world is escalating towards a state of climate catastrophe.
Plymouth’s Green councillors will firstly solve the issue of poor air quality in the city by decreasing the number of cars operating at any one time on the city’s roads. This will in turn make it easier to negotiate the city’s traffic for its people as well as helping the environment. We plan to do this by lobbying for increased funding in the city’s buses with a view to outright ownership, in order to ensure there are more buses at peak times to give people a proper alternative to travelling by car.
We will also protect green spaces for recreation and ensure that there are some spaces that can never be swallowed up by big developments. As well as the obvious environmental reasons to protect the greenbelt, this fits with our commitment to restore a sense of community to the city.
On top of this, we will ensure that all new developments meet rigorous environmental standards before Green Party councillors approve them. We may not be able to stop projects already in place but any new development would have to meet high standards on energy efficiency and minimisation of impact upon the planet and wildlife before Green approval could be given.
Finally, it is important to note that national party policy would benefit Plymouth enormously due to its close proximity to the sea. Overwhelming scientific consensus predicts sea levels to rise at an unprecedented level over the decades to come unless emergency action is taken to stop greenhouse gas emissions. Green Party policy would ensure that the city’s vibrant waterfront that we know and love does not have to be evacuated a few years from now. The 2014 storms, which closed waterfront restaurants for months, could be just a taster of what is to come without Green intervention.
We thank you for joining us these last 12 days and hope you have been convinced that Plymouth really does need the Green Party.
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