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.