Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Streetcar Comes To Haringey

Streetcar have set up what is being called a car club in Haringey. The scheme allows residents to hire a car from one hour upwards and collect and drop off the vehicle from one of twenty one designated parking places around the borough. http://www.streetcar.co.uk

I suppose that this is a step in the right direction, in that if the scheme catches on, it should reduce the number of vehicles on Haringey’s roads, and therefore reduce CO2 emissions from the reduced car population. It remains to be seen whether this is what does occur in practice, as there are a lot assumptions behind this being the case.

The costs of motoring has actually declined over the last ten years, but it is still pretty expensive owning and running a car, so in these lean economic times, it could offer a way of reducing household budgets, whilst still allowing access to a car when it is really needed. On the other hand, it may encourage people who at the moment do not own a car, to use this service, rather than public transport, and so actually increase the amount of traffic on our roads.

To my way of thinking, a car club is when a community decides to share a number of cars, rather than all own individual cars. Obviously, members of the community would need to organise and administer the club and share the running costs of the vehicles, but there would be no profit imperative. Streetcar is, I think I am right in saying, a commercial organisation that needs to make a profit from the scheme, which is in effect an unnecessary overhead cost. Indeed the price of nearly £40 per day hire charge is broadly similar to cost of traditional car hire.

We will see how it develops, and it is Green Party policy to support these types of car clubs, but I am always suspicious of companies wanting to make money out of green type initiatives.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Throwing Good Money After Bad

The government has announced that it is to bail out the banks with a further hand out of billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money. Clearly, the original bail out has failed to save the financial institutions or to have any positive effect on the wider economy, as the banks are still not lending, and unemployment is rising.

New Labour has an allergic reaction to any talk of nationalising the banks and they are desperately trying to find some way of shoring up the status quo, when it is obvious to anyone who thinks about it for five minutes, that the status quo has failed on a massive scale. Witness the reluctance to nationalise Northern Rock and when they eventually did, they refused to lend to the public, whilst complaining that the other banks were doing just that.

The British banks are bankrupt and all the government can think of doing, is to try and somehow return to the situation that caused this whole debacle. There is a run on the pound because international investors realise that this is the case and are pulling all of their money out of the UK. Truly, the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Of course, all of this money that is being poured into the banks has only one aim, to attempt to save the share price of these institutions, which have been in freefall in recent weeks. You could buy any one of them for tuppence tomorrow, so why don’t the government do exactly that instead of wasting all of our money so recklessly? Nationalise them without any compensation payments to shareholders, because their shares are less than worthless.

Then, the government can raise funds by issuing bonds, which would be an attractive investment in these dark days, and start lending to businesses and mortgage payers again and begin to get the economy kick started, alongside investing in public works like railways and renewable energy and energy conservation schemes.

These are the times for bold and radical solutions to the economic crisis, but such has become the consensus of thinking amongst Westminster politicians that this will probably only happen in a month of Sundays.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Seven Sisters By-Election Result

The Seven Sisters By-Election took place yesterday, and Haringey Green Party took an active part. The result was as follows:

Joe Goldberg (Labour) 1032 (37.08%)
Anne Gray (Green) 166 (5.96%)
Isaac Revah (Conservative) 968 (34.78%)
Lydia Rivlin (Independent) 36 (1.30%)
David Scmitz (Liberal Democrat) 581(20.88%)

Electorate 8991
Votes cast 2797
Spoilt papers 14
Turnout 31%

Monday, 5 January 2009

What I Am Standing For - Anne Gray Green Party Candidate in the Seven Sisters Ward By-election

The Green Party is not just about the environment, it’s actually about social justice. We are the only party seriously opposing privatisation of all public services, not just the Laurels Health Centre but services in general. Privatisation has led to more agency work, more insecurity and lower pay for manual and lower paid workers. The Council with its sub-contractors provide more jobs than any other single Haringey employer. All these people should get paid at least the ‘living wage’ of £7.45 for which Green members of the Greater London Assembly have campaigned as an all-London standard. Nobody can live here on the National Minimum Wage of £5.73 an hour. According to recent research (reported by the BBC on 30.9.08), Tottenham is amongst the eighth worst parliamentary constituencies in the UK for child poverty. Seven Sisters is the worst ward in the borough for low pay with 30% of parents claiming working tax credit.

Council tax should not rise to provide better pay for Council workers – the key is to have less mega-salaries at the top and save money on non-pay costs. That’s where energy conservation and social justice are connected - the more of our council tax money gets spent on energy and transport, the less can be spent on people. Public sector offices in general, according to a recent government report, are relatively wasteful of heat and light and despite its commitment to be a ‘green borough’ Haringey is probably no exception.

‘Heat or eat ?’ is an awful question facing many Haringey households at present, particularly the elderly. There are home insulation grants for people on pensions and benefits. But these need to be extended to others as well. Jobs can be created from this work. Moreover many people are finding it difficult to use the grants because they have nobody to move heavy things from their attics ready for the contractor. A thoughtful service would provide this help to older and disabled people, and women living alone, for a small fee – thus creating extra jobs.

Haringey health services are in a mess, with huge inequality between Tottenham and Hornsey. Although it’s not the Council that runs them, it’s the NHS, the Council can have a lot of influence over the NHS. We must get a hospital casualty unit back into Haringey, otherwise one day someone will bleed to death trying to get to one in the rush hour. Some important and neglected services, like foot care for the elderly and sexual health advice for young people, require a joint effort by the NHS, the Council and voluntary groups. The Green Party would like much more effort put into preventive health services. The Council is not doing enough about alcohol abuse, which is the cause of much anti-social behaviour as well as health problems. Men in Haringey are more likely to die from alcohol-related illnesses than in any other area of London. And what about advice and education for young people about parenting - would Baby P have suffered if every child was really a wanted child ?

Haringey is facing hard times. As if recent rises in food and fuel prices weren’t bad enough, the cost of food and other imported things will rise again soon, because of the fall in the value of the pound. Many people would like to grow their own vegetables, but have no land. The Green Party wants to see more allotments – Seven Sisters ward has none at all, although it has many spare spaces in housing estates and alongside the railway. Tottenham needs urban market gardens, to bring us fresh salads that don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to our shops and won’t be paid for in euros. The Council has a golden opportunity to create jobs doing just that at Wolves Lane, the old parks department greenhouses in North Tottenham.

What else can the Council do to create jobs ? That’s a key issue, because unemployment rose by 10% to 4495 JSA claimants in Tottenham Constituency in the year to November - and that was before the banking crisis really hit. There are growing markets for ‘green’ industries. Manufacturing solar power equipment, which is increasingly expensive because it’s all imported. Or insulation materials. Or many products – ranging from pens to furniture – which can now be made from recycled cardboard. In many ways the Council could support such industries on its industrial estates like Leeside in North Tottenham – not featherbedding companies, but just building partnerships for marketing and research, drawing in technical advice from local universities, and insisting that all local new buildings are well insulated and some have solar panels.

The Green Party is not alone in supporting these ideas about jobs and the environment. We know they are popular, because over forty residents’ groups and other organisations alongside the Greens already signed up to the Sustainable Haringey Network which – independently of any political party - has spent much time developing ideas like these over the last eighteen months. Give these ideas a voice on the Council and vote for Anne Gray (Green) on January 15th.