Thursday, 18 December 2008

Seven Sisters By-election - Anne Gray Green Party Candidate

Green Party candidate Anne Gray is a well-known community activist who likes getting things done. Anne recently retired from a university job in social policy. She has the time to dedicate to the people of Seven Sisters and would work hard for you.

Anne helps run the East Hale allotment site in Millmead Road . With friends she started a food coop at Broadwater Farm Community Centre to help local people buy fresh, British and organic food at affordable prices. Anne would campaign to set up community food growing schemes to bring horticultural jobs back into London and keep down the cost of good food.

Anne also takes part in the Haringey campaign against cuts and privatisation in the health service. If elected, she would campaign to stop the privatisation of the Laurels Health Centre and to keep important local services at St. Ann ’s Hospital. We also need an Accident and Emergency unit in Haringey.

Anne has written a book about unemployed people's experiences of job-hunting and the benefits system. So she is well aware of what Tottenham people face now that unemployment is rising fast. If elected, Anne would work for more and better jobs in Tottenham. She wants the Council to help develop good jobs for the future on local industrial estates. She supports the campaign to keep the Seven Sisters Market. You could trust an independent Green councillor not to bow down to big business and instead stand up for local people.

Anne was born and raised in London . She has lived in Tottenham since 1983, but has also worked in Mozambique and Brazil . She speaks Portuguese and is now learning Turkish. She is very concerned about racism, especially in the Police. She believes that ‘stop and search’ is often conducted in a way which picks on immigrants and Muslims.

Seven Sisters needs an independent voice with a fresh angle on politics within the council. Anne would help local people to hold the politicians to account.

* Greens care about vulnerable children and elderly in difficulty

Sacking social workers doesn’t help children in distress. Haringey social workers have too many cases each to work well. Older people need more help too.

The Council should:-
- Get enough social workers, who must be well trained and supported
- Give them more time with the people they look after and less red tape
- Provide real support and management of their work; not just ticking boxes on forms
- Encourage and fund more community volunteer groups to provide mums and toddlers’ activities and support isolated pensioners
- Provide better community transport and foot care for housebound elders

* Greens care about respect for all residents whatever their origin
We need to combat racism in the Police Force and all public authorities, and say no to racist stop and search practices which target foreigners and Muslims
It’s important police don’t misuse taser guns

* Greens care about a quality Health Service and resisting its privatisation
- restore cuts in preventive services for elderly, for young children and for teenage pregnancy advice
- say NO to privatisation of the Laurels Health Centre and its GPs
- say NO to privatisation of the out of hours doctors’ service
- restore an Accident and Emergency Service to Haringey

* Greens care about jobs and good housing for local residents
Haringey Greens are already working with Homes for Haringey to press for estate improvements.

A Green Councillor would
- campaign to keep the Seven Sisters Market
- help everyone to get their home well insulated, to save fuel costs and create local jobs
- buy up empty homes and give local people jobs to repair them for people on the housing waiting list
- set up community food growing schemes to bring horticultural jobs back into London and keep down the cost of good food
- develop Tottenham industrial estates as a centre of manufacturing for wind power, solar power and insulation equipment

* Greens care about reducing WASTE of all kinds – of energy, of the rubbish we throw out, of land, of empty homes, of wasted empty commercial buildings
- we should save energy in schools and council offices; insist retailers use less bags and boxes so residents have less to throw out; crack down on rubbish dumping;
To find out more about the Green Party and Anne’s campaign phone 020 8881 9300.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Pop those corks

Did anyone watch a documentary called 'Cork - Forest in a Bottle' on BBC2 last weekend. Lots of us buy more wine this time of year so it was a timely reminder to always buy bottles with corks in, not plastic stoppers or screwtops.
The film showed a fabulously beautiful region of Portugal given over to growing cork trees for generations. Cork grows in and contributes to a specific habitat (sorry forget the Portuguese name) which is fantastic for plants and animals. The trees are de-barked once every 9 years and the bark grows back. At the same time this sustainable industry provides a living for the thousands who harvest it. And it's obviously not only Portugal...

PS The true fact that I'm a Corkwoman has nothing to do with it.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Londoners work longest hours in UK

Euro MPs to vote on ending the opt-out from Working Time Directive

New figures released this week have confirmed that Londoners work some of the longest hours in the UK. It is estimated that one in six people in London work over 48 hours per week, a higher proportion than in any other region. 45,000 people are working over 66 hours per week.
Tomorrow a crucial vote will take place in the European Parliament on the EU Working Time Directive. Up to now the UK has opted out of the legislation which is designed to protect workers' health and safety by limiting their average working week to 48 hours over a 12 month period. If the Parliament votes to end the opt-out it is recommended to be phased out within three years. However the next steps will be to negotiate the way forward with the Council.

Jean Lambert, the Green Party MEP for London and Member of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, who has been heavily involved in negotiations on the Directive, said:

"We have an opportunity this week to give UK workers the right to enjoy a better work-life balance. There are many health issues related to the long-hours culture including stress, anxiety and depression, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and insomnia. This Directive is first and foremost about protecting health and safety.

"The majority of long hours employees are not paid for their overtime and therefore have little to fear in terms of their earnings if we end the opt-out. Unsurprisingly, seven out of ten people who work unpaid overtimewant to reduce their hours. Over half of those doing paid overtime also want to cut their working time.

"The UK Government has been pressurising MEPs to vote to keep the opt-out, thereby leaving UK workers open to exploitation. Why should UK workers be expected to work longer hours and have fewer rights than those on the continent?"

Regarding concerns that the Directive will be bad for business, Jean Lambert MEP said:

"There is a large degree of flexibility built into the Directive for businesses so that employees can work longer in peak times, as long as they do not work more than an average of 48 hours per week over a 12 month period." MEPs will be voting on proposals to end the UK opt-out from the Directive on Wednesday 17th December. Jean Lambert's report Must I Work Harder?, which outlines her reasons behind calling for an end to the UK opt-out, can befound at

Monday, 15 December 2008

Wanted: Plumber to mend broken boiler for perturbed local resident

We in the Haringey Green Party are a neighbourly lot. Therefore, we were very concerned to hear of a certain Highgate lady’s problems with her boiler Apparently, the wretched thing started spitting flames and making strange noises one evening. This caused its panicked owner to dial 999 for the fire brigade. Luckily, our boys and girls in blue sorted out the crisis, by switching off the appliance.

So please, if anybody knows of a good plumber, so that this poor woman can be spared having to make anymore distressed calls to the emergency services, drop a line to:

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Haringey Green Party's Amnesty International card signing event is a success!

Haringey Green Party this afternoon took over Hornsey Vale Community Centre and hosted an Amnesty International Greetings Card signing event. People from the local community joined us for mince pies and Christmas cake, and together we signed over 250 cards and letters to individuals and groups at risk around the world.
Jean Lambert, Green MEP, who was the Justice and Human Right MEP of the year 2005, was in attendence.
It gave us the opportunity to meet local people and get to know them as individuals, which is rather hard when, for example, canvassing on the doorstep! It also shows the people in Stroud Green that we are active and busy all year round - not just at election time.
At this time of year, when everyone is rushing around trying to organise Christmas, it can be good to take time out to consider those less fortunate than ourselves. By reaching out to them by sending a simple message of goodwill, we can not only boost their morale but also perhaps help to secure their safety. The arrival of these letters and cards let's the powers that be know that these people are known about around the world - they cannot simply be made to 'disappear'.
In short, a postive and worthwhile afternoon! Thanks to everyone who attended and made the event so successful and enjoyable.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Green Party Chooses Candidate to Contest Seven Sisters By-election

Anne Gray recently retired from a research job in social policy, has been selected by Haringey Green Party to contest the Seven Sisters ward by-election on 15th January 2009. Author of a book on unemployed people's experiences of job-hunting and the benefits system in several countries, she is well aware of what Tottenham people face during the recession.

Anne has lived in Tottenham since 1983 and has been working on policies to deal with unemployment and poverty most of that time, either in educational establishments, the civil service or local authorities. She has also worked in Mozambique and Brazil - she speaks Portuguese and is now trying to learn Turkish as well. Since her retirement she has been busy helping to run a big allotment site and starting a food coop to help local people buy organic and British-grown food more cheaply. She is also an active supporter of the Haringey campaign against cuts and privatisation in the health service.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Lib Dems Bend The Truth Again

The Lib Dems, in Haringey at least, have a reputation for putting out misleading information to the public about the electoral prospects of opposition parties. In the past they have used graphs with highly selective voting data, portraying them as the only party that can win council seats off Labour. It is true that they are the main challengers to Labour in many areas, but not exclusively so.

Well, they are at it again. I received a copy of the glossy ‘Hornsey and Wood Green News’ through my door the other day. It is the usual ‘look how marvellous the Lib Dems are, and look how terrible Labour are’ type of thing, complete with several photos of Lynne Featherstone, the local MP. All spin.

What really got my goat though, was their use of the recent Alexandra by-election result to peddle their usual message. Funnily enough, they actually quoted the Green Party as getting more votes than we did, but they described us as ‘A tiny party in Haringey’. I don’t know the membership figures of the Lib Dems in the area, but I would bet that they are not more than twice our membership. Haringey Green Party is one of the largest local Green Parties in the whole of Greater London. Neighbouring Camden Green Party has only a few more members than us, and they hold three council seats. What is true, is that the local Lib Dems have a lot more money than we do, and this is the secret of what success they have had in Haringey. Maybe they should just offer the voters twenty pounds each for their support.

The other claim that the literature makes is that ‘Most environmentally minded people now vote Lib Dem here’. Well, if they do, they are wasting their vote. Lib Dem run councils up and down the country have a poor record on environmental issues, approving road building and airport expansion schemes. The same is true of the Lib Dems, who in partnership with Labour in the Scottish Parliament, approved this type of damaging fossil fuelled expansion. No, if you want green, you have to vote Green.

Clearly, the Lib Dems are desperate to hang onto Lynne Featherstone’s parliamentary seat in Hornsey and Wood Green, which they only won in 2005 because of local opposition to the disastrous Iraq war. Even that was something of a con. The Lib Dems were not against the Iraq war per se, they were against it ‘without a UN resolution'. Then, when the war started, without a UN resolution, they were in favour of it. Go figure, as our American friends say.

I think they will struggle to hold onto Hornsey and Wood Green next time, as the Iraq war as an issue has now faded somewhat. Also, the election of Nick Clegg as leader has shifted the Lib Dems to the right politically, whereas the people who voted for them in 2005 in this area are centre left types. We will see.

Friday, 28 November 2008

50 Patients Occupy PCT Board Meeting

PCT Chair abandons Boardroom, reconvenes meeting elsewhere, then tries but fails to suppress the patients' presentation. Patients condemn 'unwanted, unacceptable and unlawful' privatisation of the GP surgery at The Laurels Healthy Living Centre.

Haringey PCT Board ignore the presentation and instead push ahead with their controversial and damaging mass privatisation strategy threatening any new or changing health services and facilities.

On Wednesday 26th November at 3pm 50 patients, mainly from the South Tottenham area and mainly users of The Laurels Healthy Living Centre, lobbied the Haringey Primary Care Trust Board meeting at St Ann's Hospital, South Tottenham. The lobby was called by the Laurels Action Group, a new group launched at the beginning of the month. As well as patients present there were members of local residents associations, older people's organisations and health campaign groups. The lobby was about the growing controversy over the threat of privatisation of The Laurels 'PMS' GP practice. The practice is based in the Laurels Healthy Living Centre, South Tottenham, which is also earmarked by Haringey's health managers for one of their proposed Polyclinics, which could then also face privatisation.

The patients were shocked when the PCT Chair, Richard Sumray refused the customary presentation opportunity to address the Board, saying that the meeting's Agenda was 'too long'. Those present therefore had to occupy the Boardroom in order to make their voices heard. Dave Morris, a patient at the practice under threat, distributed written copies of the presentation to all Board members and proceeded to go through the points. He was repeatedly told by the Chair to 'shut up' but stated that he had an obligation to inform the Board of the serious concerns about the tendering process, the lack of consultation with Laurels users, and the 'improper and unlawful' plan to develop a Polyclinic in a public building built in 2003 with strict legal restrictions on its usage.

A similar presentation had been successfully made by the LAG to the Council's Overview & Scrutiny Cttee on 13th November and as a result the PCT had been forced to admit to Councillors on the Committee that the consultation 'had been botched'. The PCT had reluctantly conceded it must re-run the consultation, and letters were sent out to patients this week for some meetings in December. However, as Mr Morris demonstrated to the Board, the letters were 'worse than useless' as they failed to even mention let alone consult over the key issue of the sale of the 'PMS' GP practice there! The Council's Overview & Scrutiny watchdog committee will reconvene next month on December 11th to 'review the situation'.

Kathryn Dean, a member of Haringey Green Party (in the picture above, first from the left) said after the meeting, “The PCT are trying to railroad through this proposal so that they can begin the process of privatising huge swathes of our local health services. More evidence of the failure of marketisation in all its forms hits our TV screens daily, so vital public services like health must not be left to market forces”.

Photo and bulk of the story courtesy of The Laurels Action Group
Contact - Simon Hester (patient) Dave Morris (patient)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Shaftesbury Hall Demolition Planning Appeal

After Haringey council refused planning permission for the demolition of Shaftesbury Hall (pictured above) earlier this year, the owners, the charity The Samaritans, have lodged an appeal against the decision. The Appeal hearing will take place at 10 am on 2nd December at Haringey Civic Centre, Wood Green.

The building is what is known as a ‘tin tabernacle’. These chapels sprang up from the 1870’s onwards all across the country, where housing estates were built, to cater for the religious needs of the people of all denominations. There are still over a thousand of these chapels remaining. See here for more information on these constructions

Shaftesbury Hall must have been built in the 1880’s as the surrounding houses date from that time. It is part of the heritage of the Bounds Green area.

The Samaritans who own the building now, want to demolish it and build a new office and several flats above. I attended the open day in the hall before the original (refused) planning application, where we were shown a model of the proposed new building, and could talk to the architect. Every one of the local residents in attendance objected to the design of the new construction, one saying that it would not look out of place on an industrial estate. It would look completely out of place alongside a row of houses built in the 1880’s.

Haringey council refused planning permission on the grounds of the building not fitting in with the surrounding architecture and that 24 hour opening of the office would be incompatible within a residential area.

Personally, I do not object to 24 hour opening, as if anything it would make the area seem a little safer at night, but the design of the new building would spoil the look of the road. I had always thought the tin tabernacle looked pretty ugly, but it is certainly better than what is proposed to replace it. I have also since learnt about the history of these mini churches, and think there is a heritage value to it.

The Samaritans do much good work, but I think it would be a mistake to demolish this building. It would be good if the hall could be put to some partial community use, but either way, I hope this appeal fails.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Green Party ask local people to send cards to people at risk

Haringey Green Party will be offering local people the chance to send greetings cards to people across the world, as part of Amnesty International’s annual ‘Greetings Card’ campaign.

Cards, sent to individuals at risk and political prisoners, are sent from well-wishers from around the globe. This can help guarantee the safety of these vulnerable people, as well as providing much needed moral support.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP, who was the Justice and Human Right MEP of the year 2005, will be in attendance.

We are sending out the message that these people are not forgotten. Many of them are being punished for standing up for justice and human rights in their own countries. The greetings cards they receive, which often amount to thousands, let the powers that be know that we are aware of what is going on, and these people cannot simply ‘disappear’.

Cards will go to several groups and individuals, and card signers can choose who they want to send their cards to. One recipient will be Aster Fissehatsion, a former politician and critic of the Eritrean government. She has been held incommunicado without charge or trial since September 2001.

Cards will be signed at Hornsey Vale Community Centre, Stroud Green on Sunday 14th December from 1pm until 5pm. Card signers will be asked to contribute the price of postage, and any donations of non-religious Christmas cards would be welcome, although some will be provided by the Green Party.

Please join us for what promises to be a fun and fruitful afternoon.

For more information, contact Sarah Mitchell from Haringey Green Party on 07950 118 998.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Trade Unions Against Climate Change

Discussions amongst Trade Unions, General Secretaries and Deputies, in the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union group (CCCTU), have worked to develop a set of demands that they hope to attract mass union backing and bring NGO's on board.

This is a really important development from within the trade unions, who have traditionally been wary of supporting action on climate change, because of the perceived job losses that may be a result. The group intends setting out some interim demands. The Green Party Trade Union group, have been at the forefront of working with the TUC on this iniative.

The demands may look like this :-5 million solar roofs in 5 years-5 million houses to be fully insulated in 5 years-10 fold increase in wind power in 5 years-Massive investment in rail and public transport-Statutory union environment reps-Protection of jobs and earnings for those whose jobs are threatened during the transitionThere may be an agreed statement ready prior to the Climate March , SAT 6TH DEC.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Tottenham Food Coop

Sustainable food at good prices

· Organic food
· Locally produced fruit and veg
· Near wholesale prices
· Fair trade tea and olive oil
· Run by volunteers

Broadwater Farm Community Centre
Adams Road N17
Bus W4 to Broadwater Farm estate, or
W3, 123,243 to Lordship Lane

Next market days:-
Sat. Nov. 22nd, 2008 ,
Saturday Dec. 20th
(Both 12 noon to 3pm )
Friday Dec. 12, 1pm to 5pm

You can share, swap or sell garden or allotment produce too

More info; 07791 904375 or 8444 4500

Monday, 17 November 2008

Baby P and Kneejerk Reactions - A Letter to the Press

We must be wary in the tragic case of Baby P of making hasty headline friendly responses. Over 60 Haringey headteachers have pleaded for Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey's director of children's social services not to resign. Her resignation would be possibly the one event in the whole saga which would allow most people some small satisfaction.

So, are we to ignore this overwhelming support from highly qualified people who are in a better position than us to judge her? What would be the purpose of her resignation? Surely in hasty actions we are prejudging the results of any investigation? It seems to me there is a huge demand for heads to roll in national scandals of this nature. However it is very far from clear whose heads should roll in this matter. This is a very complex issue on which we are receiving contradictory stories. I heard that Haringey child protection officers have a caseload of 25 clients each against a recommended load of 12 cases but that the council denies that they are overloaded. We need to know the truth about many issues such as this before we can give valid opinions as to who or what we can hold responsible.

I fear too many policies have been driven by political point-scoring and media headlines rather than hard evidence. This matter needs to be taken more seriously than that. The impatience of the media and public for instant solutions must be resisted. Analysis of the findings of the investigation and the opinions of qualified professionals must be given their proper weight. This process must not be rushed.

How much are any failings in this case unique to Haringey and how much are they national failings?

In 21 years there have been more than 400 initiatives, strategies and acts of parliament affecting children and young people in the UK. But have governments allowed proper time to implement this "avalanche" of policies or are children and social workers failing to benefit from services that are subjected to such frequent changes in policy, funding and structure that are allowed little time to bed down.

Social workers are spending 60 to 80 per cent of their time in front of computer screens, typing up reports to meet targets. A focus on performance targets can detract from the 'real work'. 'Workers report being more worried about missed deadlines than missed visits.

What of staff morale? Imagine how stressful this work is. In London 15 per cent of social work posts are vacant. Improving the salary levels and conditions of employment of professional social workers, as a distinct occupational grouping, must be central to any major project to overcome problems of staff turnover and burnout.
This work is complex and difficult and we must recognize that risk cannot be eliminated. Sadly some people will continue to kill and seriously harm their children. Not every tragedy can be prevented but we must continue to strive to do so - History suggests that this kind of message doesn't tend to get much of a hearing at times like these, but we will see.

Haringey council has invested council tax payers’ money in gagging a former social worker who was whistle blowing. I would like to know why I am paying for this and what benefit the community is getting from this investment. Could this be on the advice of the same lawyer who advised social workers that the evidence Baby P was being abused was not strong enough to warrant removing the child from his mother.

Pete McAskie (pictured above)
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate
Hornsey & Wood Green

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Abuse and Death of Baby P

Haringey is in the national news after a second infant in eight years was abused and died at the hands of their carers. Victoria Climbe was murdered by her great aunt and the woman’s partner in the borough in 2000. The case of Baby P is perhaps even more shocking, given that he was known to Haringey’s Children’s Services, the police and health workers. The child was visited sixty times in the eight months leading up to his death, which resulted from extensive injuries including eight broken ribs and a broken back. The mother and two of her associates were convicted of causing his death.

I don’t want to make a party political issue out of this tragedy as that is not the point. There will be a full investigation into the handling of this case, but it does seem clear that there were serious failings in protecting this child from abuse and ultimately death.

The principle that social workers are guided by in these cases is that if at all possible children should be left with their parents, and for good reason. All the evidence shows that children who are taken into care, do worse at things like educational achievement, and of course it is not unknown for abuse to occur in children’s homes themselves. It is always a tough call for a social worker to remove children from the family home.

That said, it is hard to imagine given the extent of the injuries suffered by Baby P, that not one of the various professionals involved in the case spotted the danger. Interestingly, neighbouring Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, said on the BBC Politics Show, that she thought social workers were ‘box ticking’ and avoiding using their professional judgement in cases like this. There does seem to be a culture of statistics and targets within all levels of the public services these days, national curriculums, school league tables, health service waiting lists etc, and this is surely the influence of central government. Perhaps if public service professionals spent more time out there in the thick of it, and less time filling in forms, we might have more effective services.

Of course the primary blame in this horrific case is with the perpetrators of the crime, but in some ways we are all culpable. People are uneasy about reporting their suspicions to the authorities, because they don’t want to interfere in other people’s lives, and maybe we have lost sight of our community obligations, and indeed our communities in general. The area of Haringey in which this took place has not been revealed, but I would bet it was in one of the more deprived areas of the borough, which is itself an indictment on the society that we live in.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Action group to fight GP privatisation

Fears a private company could run a Haringey health centre are gathering pace among its patients. Last month Haringey Primary Care Trust announced its intentions to put one of the GP surgeries at the Laurels Health Centre in Tottenham out to bidders.
Under EU law this service has to be tendered on the open market and private companies as well as local GPs can apply to run the service.

The Laurels, in St Ann’s Road, opened in 2004 and is billed as the borough’s first polyclinic, or neighbourhood health centre.

But users of the centre met this week to start up an action group protesting at plans.
Patient at the Laurels, Simon Hester, said: "We know what privatisation means - to put profit first. The point of this meeting is to see if we can stop it."
Dave Morris, from the Stop Haringey Health Cuts Coalition, spoke at the meeting. He said: "The chickens have come home to roost at our very own health centre which is threatened with privatisation.

"The Laurels was set up for the people of Tottenham from public funds for public people and not to be a cash cow for private companies. We feel we should be driving what's happening there. "It is very important we speak out as patients, as health workers and as GPs."

Candy Udwin, who has campaigned against similar privatisation plans in Camden, said: "If they can nationalise banks what are they doing privatising our health service? It makes no sense whatsoever.

“If you don’t stop it now it’s going to spread through Haringey. We have to say we are not going to have our NHS destroyed by a market system which is showing us everyday it does not work.”

Pete McAskie (who you can just make out holding the banner to the right in the above photo), Green Party candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, said, “The Green Party is the only mainstream party to oppose privatisation of our public services. This is only the thin edge of the wedge, and we can expect more of our health services to contracted out to the privateers, we need to put a stop to this now. I fully support this campaign.”

Haringey PCT director of primary care and performance, James Slater, said: “The PCT is seeking a primary care provider to manage one of the two practices based within the Laurels Healthy Living Centre.

“We have advertised openly and received a number of applications from a range of providers including several local GPs.

"We held meetings as an informal, friendly opportunity to discuss the ongoing plans for Haringey and specifically the neighbourhood.”

Photo and bulk of this story courtesy of The Haringey Independent

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Review of 20mph limits on London's roads gets underway

A new investigation will look at how effective 20mph zones have been in making London's roads - the scene of more than 28,000 casualties last year - safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

London boroughs and Transport for London (TfL) have the power to set speed limits of 20mph on residential streets, and between them have introduced almost 400 such zones in the capital.

Statistics show that 222 people died on London's roads last year. Of those, 109 were pedestrians and 15 were cyclists.

Are 20mph zones making a difference? Should more zones be introduced or are there more effective methods that could be deployed to reduce the number of casualties and fatalities on the streets of the capital? Are borough or even London-wide default 20mph limits on allresidential streets a viable option?

A special investigation by the London Assembly Transport Committee will set out to answer these questions and come up with recommendations to the Mayor and TfL about making London's roads safer.

Jenny Jones AM, (pictured above left, with Anne Gray centre and Pete McAskie right, Haringey Green Party general election candidates) who is leading the investigation on behalf of the Transport Committee, said:

"First we need to find out exactly how well the 20 mile per hour zones that are already in place in almost every London borough are actually working - then look at how best to take things forward.

"The statistics are shocking and it's obvious more needs to be done to improve road safety for Londoners."

The investigation will draw on existing data about public support for 20mph limits and call for written evidence from relevant stakeholders. It will also include a witness session that will be open to the public, and a site visit to Portsmouth where 20mph limits are being introduced on all residential streets. The findings from the investigation are expected to be published early next year.

Monday, 3 November 2008

No Left Turn at Bounds Green Station

I have lost count of the number of times that I have been crossing Brownlow Rd by the tube station, with the traffic lights indicating it is safe to cross, and a vehicle comes zooming around the corner. There is no left turn for vehicles at this junction, with a road sign clearly forbidding it. Sometimes the driver will stop as pedestrians are milling across the road and look a bit sheepish, others, kind of drive through the gap in the pedestrians dangerously. The photo above must have been taken at 6am on a Sunday, as normally there is a lot of traffic at this corner.

It’s not as though this is an unknown problem to our political representatives in Bounds Green on Haringey council. We have two Lib Dems and one Labour councillor in Bounds Green. The Labour one sent a leaflet around locally a year or so back, saying that he would ensure that a bigger ‘no left turn’ sign was displayed further back on Bounds Green Rd, but this hasn’t happened.

When I was ‘telling’ at the Alexandra ward by-election recently, I recognised the Lib Dem teller as one of the Bounds Green councillors, so took the issue up with him. He also suggested bigger road signs further back, but didn’t seem particularly concerned. I told him that yes more signs would be better, but that it was just bad driving. Incredibly, he said that drivers had a lot to look out for, so needed assistance.

Well, driving in urban areas is all about looking out for traffic signs etc, and I think these drivers know that should not turn left at this junction, but just do it anyway. I’m not a big fan of TV cameras everywhere, but in this instance I am in favour of them at this junction. One day, someone will be seriously injured or even killed at this corner.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Workfare is not the answer — Anne Gray, Green Party Candidate for Tottenham

'Writing Off Workfare: For a Green New Deal, not the Flexible New Deal' is the Green Party's response to the government's 'public consultation' on welfare reform.
The Green Party proposes a non-means-tested Citizen's Income that would free people to help disabled and elderly relatives, and to take odd jobs or voluntary work, which many unemployed people need to do without being punished for breaking JSA rules. It also makes a detailed critique of the government’s proposals based on recent academic research – much of which the government has ignored – and the actual experiences of people on benefits.

The Welfare Reform Green Paper, 'No One Written Off: Reforming Welfare to Reward Responsibility' seems unduly influenced by large companies that see the privatisation of job centre services as big business. The consultation asks 29 questions, none of which are addressed to the impact of growing global recession and diminishing global resources upon employment. The Green Paper puts forward many new obligations for claimants – including working for nothing more than benefits – but hardly any incentives or new money for the unemployed. Instead it offers new business opportunities for private ‘providers’ of back-to-work services, some of whom will be big multinationals. It strips benefit claimants of what little bargaining power they have, both against these ‘providers’ and against employers offering unreasonable conditions.

The 'Green New Deal ' adopted by the Green Party at its Autumn Conference advocates a 'green jobs' programme. These would be real jobs at real wages, many created by local authorities, highlighting work which will help to avert climate change and extensive training in construction and engineering skills. The government has since seized upon the energy saving ideas of the Green New Deal but not its redistributive aspects – a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, and a rise in benefits for the poor.
The Green Party opposes work-for-benefit schemes and the privatisation of back-to-work services, which would hand money to shareholders rather than help the unemployed. The government’s proposals would impose workfare with payment of £1.70 per hour on anyone who couldn’t find a job within two years. Many lone parents and people with health problems are in this position through no fault of theirs. The Green Party shows how they – and other future victims of the recession – would suffer under the government’s proposals for workfare and for tougher benefit rules.

Anne Gray (pictured above), co-author of the consultation response, said: "Workfare is collective punishment of the unemployed. What they need is real jobs and real training. Our plans would focus on giving unwaged people the money and the jobs they need, not on spending a fortune to enable big companies to make money out of policing the unemployed

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Interview: Anne Gray - Green Party Candidate for Tottenham Parliamentary Constituency

How long have you been a Green Party member and what is your political background?

I joined just in time to do election work for the Euro elections in 2004. I was a member of the Labour Party briefly in 1984-5, and the Communist Party in the 1970s, but I have had a lifetime of activity in various non-party movements, starting with CND as a teenager. In recent years I've mainly been involved with campaigning about benefits for unemployed people which linked with my academic research work, and campaigning against the anti-terrorism laws which are really a disaster for civil liberties. I've also been working with the Sustainable Haringey Network, mainly on food policy issues, and we have started a food coop to give people a chance to reduce 'food miles' and buy organic at affordable prices . And I've also been working with the local campaign to preserve the Health Service, because the 'polyclinics' proposal is really privatisation by stealth, and the American multi-nationals could take over quite a lot of our doctors.

Can we avoid climate change disaster?

Only if we try pretty hard. The scientific predictions get worse every time they hit the Guardian. But we just have to try - otherwise the consequences are unthinkable - with the ice caps melting and rising sea levels, Bangladesh and the Netherlands would drown, and many coastal cities across the world, including London and particularly parts of the Lee Valley up to Tottenham, would go the way of New Orleans. And as someone who feels the cold a lot, I dread the end of the Gulf Stream which keeps our country warm in winter - but it could happen as the Arctic ice shrinks. To avoid disaster, as books like Monbiot's 'Heat' have warned us, we need a very drastic cut in transport-related emissions, particularly in flying and private car use, but also in lorry traffic and shipping, and we need to stop using fossil fuels for heat and power. Britain is said to be the Saudi Arabia of wind power, and manufacturing both of turbines and of solar power gear would be something the government could invest in right now as a way of beating the recession. The predictions about what happens to the climate if we do nothing are dire, but the scenarios for cutting back CO2 emissions if we do the right things actually make saving the planet sound quite feasible - we could get it right if we take all the steps that people like Zero Carbon Britain or the transition towns movement are advocating.

What individual things have you done to reduce your carbon footprint?

I haven't had a car since 1989. I cycle where I can, though the roads aren't that friendly. I have solar power on my roof, lots of roof insulation and double glazing. I try not to put the central heating on till November unless it's really cold - having been brought up with 1950s heating systems, I'm used to wearing big jumpers at home. And I try not to fly - overnight train and boat journeys can be fun and more relaxed than all that boring airport security. Though I did get stuck in the French railway strike whilst trying to go to a conference in Italy last year, which wasn't that clever.

What is your view on the current financial crisis?

The gut reaction is shoot the bankers, but I don't believe in the death penalty and anyway a couple of my friends work in the City. We do need strong powers against economic sabotage and whilst some journalists had a go at the government for using anti-terrorism powers to seize the assets of the Icelandic bank which holds Haringey's (and other councils') payroll funds, to me it seemed the only sensible use of these seizure powers to date. I call it economic sabotage when greed has led banks, which means the people who work in them , to take unreasonable risks with other people's money. We need to understand what's at the bottom of the crisis, how to deal with it, and how to make sure it doesn't happen again. The root of the problem is a capitalist system in which markets are somehow sacred and people are allowed to pursue their own financial interest in thoroughly unproductive ways. So much of the British - and especially the London - economy is about making money from money, which actually creates nothing useful, just a transfer from borrower (often poor) to lenders (that's shareholders and big-bonus bank staff - often wealthy). The banks made lots of money in recent years by lending to borrowers who were 'bad risks' so that those people and companies could drive up the price of homes, in the process giving a bonus to the 'haves' and making life more difficult for 'have nots' who couldn't afford to buy a home. The banks abandoned the old practice of rationing mortages to one home per household, which if you think about it must have helped to keep house prices down a bit. 'Buy to let' is basically more risky than 'buy to live in' because the lettings market or the tenant's ability to pay can go wrong, as well as the borrower's solvency. The regulators - especially in the USA, where the rot started - didn't stop the banks being greedy and lending too widely. But the regulators here turned a blind eye too, even when it became apparent that some banks, like Northern Rock, were taking too big a risk both about who they lent to and where they got the money to lend out - Northern Rock had only 27% of its funds from savers and the rest from short-term money markets where the price of funds could go up suddenly.

Now the system is in a real mess. Billions of taxpayers' money has been handed out to banks in rescue loans and share purchases. What happens to public finances if it doesn't get paid back ? However this has shown up the government's attitudes on a lot of important things it might have borrowed for in the recent past - it's as though it's ok to provide welfare for the bankers but the unemployed, the sick, decent elder care, the inner city schools are apparently 'unaffordable'. The government could have got much tougher about the conditions of the rescues, demanding much more long term control and a limitation of pay, pensions and bonuses, in some cases big fines I would say, for the senior bank staff who took bad decisions.

Clearly the recession has begun, and so has the slide in the value of people's savings and pension funds, which is going to be especially bad for a lot of older people. As the economy goes down, we shall need to struggle hard to preserve public services and the value of benefits and pensions, and demand that the rich pay up in terms of taxes and special levies of various kinds. Some of this could come from new taxes on real estate - not capital gains, because those are done for, but the actual capital values of homes and other buildings which are still huge in posh parts of London. Despite the recent fall-back of the oil price, we should still call for a windfall tax on energy profits.

Green economic policies will really score in a recession. Caroline Lucas already helped to launch the Green New Deal, a great programme for creating jobs in sensible ways which will help against climate change. But if we get a serious recession (or even if we don't), there are many ideas in the green economics tradition which are helpful. LETS schemes, based on bartering each others' labour, can help local people make do if there are no jobs. Credit unions are a way of creating our own cooperative mini-banks, under depositors' control, and providing low or no-interest loans to individuals or businesses. They're rather like the original British building societies or the cooperative credit schemes which are familiar to Caribbean, African and Pakistani traditions. For example we could set up credit clubs to finance solar power, or home repairs, or build greenhouses - all of which would help create jobs. Local food production, which is what we are working for in Sustainable Haringey, could provide food security if imported food becomes unaffordable or even unavailable because of high transport costs or credit problems.

What are the issues you plan to stand on at the 2010 Haringey council and General Elections?

We live in a time of crisis and it partly depends on the next two years' events. But amongst my priorities would be peace (if we are still, heaven help us, shamed by our government's share in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan), opposing privatisation of public services especially health, and getting decent wages and benefits. Tottenham is one of the worst places in the country for child poverty and we need to work hard on that whether or not we get elected. I've just been writing a Green Party response to the government's consultation on welfare reform, criticising their workfare proposals which are pretty much the opposite of our approach to benefits - the Green ideal is a basic income for everyone whether they work or not, rather like a child benefit for adults. The whole benefits system needs re-vamping to make it easier for people to work a bit when they can, not lose all their benefits or be prosecuted for fraud because they do two weeks work when something like decorating for a friend is all they can get. A lot of unwaged people could benefit from going to college for a year, or two or three, but the JSA rules don't permit them. At least we could push to make Tottenham a pilot area for some special schemes, because of its extreme situation.

What kind of result do you expect in these elections?

We stand a reasonable chance in Stroud Green and Haringay wards if we can get to talk to enough voters.

It would be a miracle if the Green Party won either Haringey constituency in the general election. But I think that's not the point, or not all of the point. We know the other parties feel threatened by the Green Party's arguments on climate change, and so they start to take up our policies. It would be a victory if they did the same about privatisation and about getting out of Iraq. And the larger the vote for the Greens - though the same would apply to any small party - the stronger the argument for proportional representation. It's when we have that key change in the voting system that British politics will become much more democratic and then Greens will really surge forward.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Jean Lambert MEP Addresses Haringey Greens

Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London addressed the October meeting of Haringey Green Party. She explained something of the workings of the European Parliament and its relationship with the Commission and the Council of Ministers. The Parliament has stronger powers when it comes to the environment and employment issues, as co-decision making is required. That is, agreement needs to be reached by Parliament and the Council of Ministers (made up of national government ministers).

Asked about her greatest achievement as a MEP, Jean said that as a member of the Employment and Social Affairs committee she has successfully pushed the Green Jobs agenda, particularly linking training to climate change. Jean has made strong links with the European Trade Unions Federation and there is much interest in taking this forward. Jean has a good track record on employment issues and also pursuing issues associated with asylum seekers and human rights.

Jean thinks that the current financial crisis may provide an opportunity for change, but there is also a risk that a jobs first and economy first mentality may overshadow the environment and a sustainable future.

In the 2009 European Parliament elections, London representatives will be reduced from 9 to 8, due to European expansion to the east. Jean finished 8th in 2004 but we will need to put in every effort if she is to be re-elected next year.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Alexandra Ward By-election Result

LIB DEM 1460 - 50%

LAB 772 - 26%

CON 443 - 15%

GREEN 221 - 7.5%

BNP 27 - 0.9%

T/O 35%

Yesterday’s by-election in the Haringey ward of Alexandra saw the Lib Dems retain their council seat by a comfortable margin. This was the expected result and demonstrates that they are still strong in the west of the borough.

James Patterson, the Green Party candidate achieved a respectable 7.5% of the poll, and this was only pulled off with a lot of hard work put in by James, pounding the streets and knocking on doors. By-elections are always tough for the greens, as the bigger parties can concentrate their resources on one ward, often bringing in people from all around London, to help them campaign. All in all, not a bad result for us.

The same cannot be said for the British National Party, who polled only 27 votes, a tiny 0.9% of the total vote. Recently they polled only 29 votes in neighbouring Hampstead, so they are pretty irrelevant in this part of north London. Well done to the voters of Alexandra, for rejecting the BNP’s brand of populist immigrant bashing, so soundly.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Community Unites Against the BNP

Around sixty residents of Alexandra ward, Haringey met last night in St Andrew’s church hall, to express their opposition to the British National Party, who are standing a candidate in next week’s by-election in the ward.

The meeting was called by Haringey Trades Union Council, Haringey UNISON and Haringey Federation of Residents Associations to encourage and support local people in opposing racism and fascism. They delivered a leaflet to all households in the ward, urging a rejection of the BNP.

The BNP have never stood in Haringey elections before, and although in the recent GLA London wide member election they attracted only 49 votes from the ward, many present felt that we should not be complacent.

Haringey greens had a strong presence at the meeting. David Rennie (pictured above) spoke of the dangers of racism spreading through our community which has enjoyed racial harmony. He said, 'the BNP's obsession with immigrants, is ridiculous in so far as we are all immigrants – out of Africa. That most of us here have white faces is a minor matter of climate: we evolved white skin to get more Vitamin D from the sun.' Kathryn Dean pointed out that many white working class residents felt that they had no effective electoral representation, and are concerned with issues like housing. It is all too easy for the BNP to whip up tensions in the community.

Pete McAskie, Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, worried about the publicity that the local press had afforded to the BNP candidate in the forthcoming by-election. This was echoed by James Patterson, Green Party candidate in the Alexandra ward by-election, when he said ‘The BNP thrive upon controversy and publicity of any sort’.

The meeting resolved to deliver a second leaflet to residents of the ward, and to organise other protests against the fascists.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Sarah Mitchell in The Telegraph

Sarah Mitchell, Haringey Green Party member is featured in The Daily Telegraph fashion pages.
Is there a stereotype of a Green? Yes! Sandal-wearing, beardy men. It's completely out of date and it's actually quite fun to confound people's expectations because if they've got a particular stereotype in their minds they can dismiss you
How important is image to a politician? Even people who say they don't judge on appearances do to some extent. The fact is, people are interested in the personal lives of politicians and what they wear is a good indicator of what they're like as a person
Is it harder for female politicians to get it right? There is a real double standard in politics. Men can just wear a suit, whereas what women wear is scrutinised - remember when Theresa May's shoes made front-page news?
Describe your own style Vintage. I go for a 1950s look. I got married earlier this year in a 1950s cocktail dress. I really love the feminine, flattering shapes
Do you adapt your wardrobe for work? I wouldn't have worn a really bright vintage dress to speak at conference. I was standing for national campaigns co-ordinator and I think people would have been thinking about what I was wearing rather than what I was saying
What did you wear? A smart jacket from M&S, a box-pleat skirt from Zara and a 1950s red polka-dot blouse. So I got my little signature bits in there but wasn't totally outlandish.When I came off stage some people complimented me on my speech, others on my lipstick and glasses

Tottenham Food Coop

A non-profit food market based on volunteer labour and sustainable food:-* organic dry goods like beans, rice, couscous, flour and dried fruit at wholesale prices* a place to buy and sell fruit and veg from your garden or allotment* good value fresh organic fruit and veg from farm suppliers close to London (cut those food miles !)* fair trade organic tea supplied by Indian farmers through a non-profit importer called 'Just Change'* fair trade organic Palestinian olive oil from the Zaytoun coop
Come to the Tottenham Food Coop’s next sales day on Saturday 1st Novemeber, 12 noon till 3pm at Broadwater Farm Community Centre, Adams Road, N.17.
Please bring your own bags. Our policy is to minimise packing materials.
Can I sell too ?
Yes please! Let’s have those home grown apples, courgettes, tomatoes, pumpkins, home made jam, cakes, pickles. You can sell for charities or make a bit of money.
Contact details below.
How to get there
The Community Centre is at the end of Adams Road, next to Lordship Recreation Ground. Enter the park from Lordship Lane; follow path along the left (east) side of the park and turn left towards the estate; the centre is the first building. W4 or 123 bus from Tottenham High Road, Bruce Grove or Wood Green/Turnpike Lane. W4 goes along the edge of the Broadwater Farm estate. From west Haringey, take W3 or 144 along Lordship Lane.
Who’s running the coop ?Tottenham Food Coop is a Back to Earth Project in partnership with Sustainable Haringey and Broadwater Farm Community CentreA few volunteers (connected to ‘Sustainable Haringey’) started it off in July. We need more people to help with sales and ordering.
Could you sometimes give an hour or two especially on a Saturday, to make sure we keep going and expand to weekly sales?Get involved in the coop and help develop its plans
Food coop contactsE-mail Information about the coop will regularly be put on the internet as things develop at the Sustainable Haringey web site - google Sustainable Haringey if you don't already know it (then click ‘food’ under ‘working groups’ on left of page, then ‘Tottenham Food Coop’).Phone: Anne Gray on 07791 904375 (but not Oct 3 to 16) or Shelly Fennell 0208 444 4500

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Voters have a progressive alternative to Labour

As the Green candidate for the by-election in Haringey's Alexandra ward, I have spent much of the past week canvassing the streets for support. If there is one thing that I have learnt, it is that disillusioned Labour voters genuinely do want the option of voting for a progressive centre-left party. This, by definition, excludes the Liberal Democrats.The unfolding global financial crisis has exposed the vulnerabilities and follies of neoliberal global capitalism. Therefore, many of the assumptions and truisms around which the three main political parties have converged have been effectively disproved. However, Greens have been arguing for years that neoliberal globalisation is economically and environmentally unsustainable.Unsurprisingly, all three of the grey parties are beginning to gesticulate in a vaguely leftish fashion. However, the voters aren't buying it. Many Alexandra ward residents are educated and well-informed professionals who are able to make independent judgements about politics and current affairs. They are even sometime characterised as 'Guardian-reading North London intelligentsia' to quote one local newspaper.Knocking on doors can sometimes be a challenging exercise for a candidate. Still, I have been inspired to keep going by the large number of disillusioned Labour voters that I have met during the campaign. They desperately want to be a able to vote for a party that prioritises sustainability and quality of life issues over GDP growth. Furthermore, it hasn't escaped their notice that the Lib Dems have espoused privatisation and tax cuts.I will have to wait until next week to find out if they are actually prepared to walk into a polling booth and vote for me. However, they have the option of a progressive centre-left alternative to Labour.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Haringey Greens fight to save local GP surgeries

Haringey Greens turned out in force at a meeting organised by the Better Local Healthcare campaign on Monday 22nd September. The meeting was called following a decision by Haringey Teaching Primary Care Trust to relocate local GPs to polyclinics. Such a measure could result in the closure of several of the borough’s GP surgeries.

The meeting was addressed by a panel of experts which included the academic Colin Leys, local GP Dr Helen Pelendrides and healthcare campaigner Kate Wilkinson. A number of local Green Party members, involved in the campaign, also contributed.

Pete McAskie, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Hornsey and Wood Green, emphasised that the Greens are the only mainstream political party committed to defending the NHS from privatisation and fragmentation.

A key theme that emerged during the meeting was the rather disingenuous way in which unpopular reforms are imposed on local communities. Therefore, James Patterson, the Green Candidate for the Alexandra Ward by-election, raised questions about the effectiveness of existing scrutiny mechanisms.

Anne Gray, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Tottenham (pictured above), suggested that action should be taken when doubts about the probity of private companies involved in healthcare services come to the fore.

Many attending the meeting expressed their frustration with the way in which the main political parties have managed healthcare issues locally and nationally. However, the meeting allowed Haringey Greens an opportunity to demonstrate their political ability and commitment to defending local healthcare services.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Alexandra Ward By-election

James Patterson –
Green Party candidate for the Alexandra Ward by-election on Thursday 9th October
James Patterson is a local resident and experienced campaigner. He works in Higher Education and has recently completed the MSc in Global Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. As a former Labour Party member, James believes that only the Greens have the policies and vision that can deliver on social justice and environmental sustainability. If elected as Haringey’s first ever Green Councillor, James would use his knowledge of the political process to support the Save Ally Pally campaign and oppose the encroaching privatisation of the borough’s health services.
James is standing in this election in order to offer local voters a genuine political choice between the grey politics of the three main parties and a real Green voice on Haringey Council.
7 Good Reasons to Vote Green
The local Green Party were against the sale of Alexandra Palace to a leisure company from the outset, so we are pleased that this deal has fallen through. I will campaign to ensure that this historic building is only used for appropriate activities.
Greens are committed to ensuring that local people have access to local postal services. Therefore, we are campaigning for the re-opening of the Alexandra Park Road Post Office.
Recent research by the Green Party has revealed that Haringey’s system of ‘co-mingled’ recycling actually increases the borough’s carbon footprint. The Greens are campaigning for separated recycling that really is environmentally sustainable.
I will campaign for semi-fast trains to stop at Alexandra Palace on the service to Kings Cross.
Haringey Green Party is campaigning against the encroaching privatisation of local health services and the closure of GP surgeries across the borough. The Green Party believes that public services should be publicly owned and be publicly accountable. I will campaign in Haringey to reverse the drift towards privatisation of our essential services.
Greens are committed to defending the ethos of public service at all levels of government over promoting the interests of multinational corporations, which all of the main parties are now committed to.