Green candidate present at fox hunting demonstration

Leeds West Green Party candidate Andrew Pointon and his wife Tina  joined other demonstrators at Leeds City Square on 27th May to protest about Theresa May’s plan to hold a free vote on ending the ban of fox hunting if the Conservatives form the next government.

Despite torrential rain for much of the route, a large group of people united by their love of animals and loathing of cruelty to animals, marched through the streets of Leeds city centre to draw attention to the current Prime Minister’s support for a return of fox hunting, and to call on people not to vote Conservative. The heavy rain did not dampen spirits and the noisy but peaceful demonstration seemed to have the backing of the majority of the public passing by.

Andrew said of the event:

“Since my mid-teens I have been passionately opposed to fox hunting and at that time I was a member of the League Against Cruel Sports. I was delighted when the Hunting Act in 2004 banned the barbaric act of hunting foxes and indeed other wild animals, although personally I felt it should have been stronger. Sadly it comes as no surprise that Mrs May said that if re-elected as Prime Minister she will set in motion a chance to repeal that legislation and look to bring back fox hunting.

How anyone can derive pleasure from seeing a beautiful creature torn to shreds meeting such a violent and horrific death is beyond me. Both my wife and I are passionate advocates of animal rights so clearly it was important to us both to be here to help raise awareness that a vote for the Tories is among other terrible things, a vote to bring back fox hunting. We must keep the ban in place and strengthen legislation to protect our wildlife even more.”

The Green Party opposes the return of fox hunting and has comprehensive policies on animal welfare. The Greens For Animal Protection Group is a Green Party initiative which aims to develop policy on animal protection issues and also campaign for animals. The Green Party’s Animal Rights policies in full can be found here.

 

Leeds West candidate supports unions on May Day Rally

Leeds Greens at TUC rally

The dull weather and rain showers didn’t prevent the largest number of Leeds Greens joining hundreds of other marchers on the traditional May Day march through Leeds city centre today. Headed by a brass band, trade unionists, political parties, and other activists marched through crowded streets of shoppers to celebrate International Workers’ Day, and to send out the message that “Austerity must end”.

Leeds Greens valued the opportunity to show their support for this annual TUC event as the Green Party’s manifesto contains economic policies that closely match the alternative anti-austerity budgets drawn up by unions like UNISON and PCS. The Green Party also believe in investing in public services rather than cutting them, and fights to keep the NHS public, rejecting any form of privatisation in the health service.

With policies such as putting the railways back into public ownership, building more social housing for rent, and creating one million new jobs through green measures like renewable energy and insulation schemes, the Green Party represents the ideals of many trade union members. The Green Party also recognise that the rising cost of living combined with pay freezes and cuts have forced more people into debt and below the poverty line.

Leeds Greens on TUC marchWhile the introduction of a Basic Citizen’s Income is the Green Party’s target, one step in the right direction would be paying workers a Living Wage of £10 an hour by 2020. At the same time it is important that working conditions continue to be improved and not put a threat by the policies of the Coalition government. Both public and private sector workers deserve decent rights at work and being in a trade union plays a crucial role.

The Green Party candidate for Leeds West, Andrew Pointon said:

Andrew on the TUC march

Andrew Pointon on the TUC march

As a UNISON Convenor and Branch Officer I am proud to have been amongst fellow Green Party members at the TUC May Day rally. It is important to remember the contributions the trade unions have made to working conditions over the decades of struggle, and to realise that the unions are vital in the defence of those rights and to fighting for further improvements. We need to establish a decent living wage that people can live on and do away with the instability of zero hour contracts. The Green Party support these campaigns, and recognise that when all else fails workers have the right to go on strike to defend pay, pensions, conditions, and to ensure that vital public services remain.

In local government we are seeing horrendous cuts, driven not by necessity, but ideology. The Conservatives do not like the public sector and are hell bent on destroying it, lining up services to be privatised and sold to their corporate mates. If we do not fight back we will see public services disappear. Public services used by the many and needed by some of the most vulnerable in society will be gone. The Green Party shares the unions’ desire to fight for working people and society’s vulnerable and less well off. That’s why I was here today.

The march ended with a rally in Leeds Victoria Gardens in front of the Art Gallery, and a series of passionate speakers.

Greens say end austerity and invest in our public services

Green Party launches 2015 General Election Manifesto

Green Party Manifesto 2015The Green Party today launched ‘For the Common Good’, the Party’s 2015 General Election Manifesto , which sets out a bold, ambitious plan for a fairer society and safer planet.

The manifesto focuses on the Greens’ commitment to restoring and extending public services and tackling climate change.

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and only the Greens are determined to tackle it by taking serious action to limit our emissions at home and fighting for a fair global deal that secures humanity’s shared future. The Green Party will invest up to £80billion over the next Parliament in renewable generation and energy efficiency.

Real action on climate change will create jobs, reduce energy bills and make life better for ordinary people.

The Green Party stands for a fair economy that works for all and will end austerity and restore the public sector, creating over one million good jobs that pay the Living Wage.  The Green Party will introduce a Wealth Tax on the top 1%, a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on the banks and crack down on tax dodging to raise £75billion a year by 2019.

The Green Party will take back our health service by reversing the creeping privatisation of our NHS and increasing health spending by £12billion a year. Healthcare must be publicly funded and free at the point of use.

The manifesto was launched by Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader of England and Wales, and Caroline Lucas, who was elected as MP for Brighton Pavilion in 2010.

Bennett said:

“Austerity has failed and we need a peaceful political revolution to get rid of it.

“Our manifesto is an unashamedly bold plan to create a more equal, more democratic society while healing the planet from the effects of an unstable, unsustainable economy.

“This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.”

Lucas said:

“We urgently need real leadership when it comes to tackling climate change – and that’s what our manifesto delivers.

“From ending the scandal of cold homes to investing in a public transport system that puts the public first, our plans will make a positive difference to people’s lives, create new jobs and help protect our environment.

“We have put investing in a greener future at the heart of our manifesto and only Green MPs will demand Parliament delivers change that reflects the scale of the climate problem.”

Read the manifesto here: www.greenparty.org.uk/we-stand-for/2015-manifesto.html

Green Party calls for 10% cut in train and bus fares with increased public investment

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas

The Green Party today announced plans for an average 10% cut in rail and bus fares, which will be included in its general election manifesto, paid for by increasing public investment in fares by £1.8 billion a year.

The £9 billion investment over the course of the next parliament would be met by scrapping most of the Government’s £15 billion new road building programme.

The announcement came on the day when local Green parties up and down the country joined RMT, Action for Rail, Compass and People’s Assembly protests against the failed privatised rail system. They backed Green MP Caroline Lucas’s Railways Bill that would bring services back into public hands, to allow them to be run for the benefit of passengers, not shareholders. Members of the Green Party were present at Leeds station today to hand out leaflets and talk to the public about the new year rise in rail fares.

Caroline Lucas has rightly criticised what she dubbed the “blatant transfer of public money to private shareholders”, and that “the Public Purse is propping up a failing rail system for private gain. UK railways would be £1 billion better off in public hands.”

She said shambolic services over the Christmas period were typical of “a system that has flatly failed”, and added: “Rail privatisation has become characterised by poor services, cramped trains and extortionate fares. It’s ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment. This isn’t a call for a throwback to a ‘70s British Rail. The modern, efficient, clean, affordable services enjoyed in other parts of Europe offer a much better blueprint than our own past.”

The UK has some of the highest fares in Europe, and they continue to rocket – vastly out of line with wage rises. As the Green Party candidate for Leeds West I agree wholeheartedly with Caroline and I believe we need to call for an end to a railway designed for private profiteering, at the expense of quality, value and fairness. The only long term solution to high fares and poor services is to bring the railways fully back into public hands. As the son of a retired railwayman this is an issue that I’m very passionate about.

Since 2010 rail fares have gone up around 23% while wages have risen just 6.9%. The latest rises are on average 2.2%. Greens would like to see fares set so there’s a sufficient price advantage between them and private motor transport to attract users away from the car. We would also like to improve the availability of tickets at a wide range of outlets, and simplify the fare structure so there’s a standard rate with reductions for off-peak times, people with low incomes or no incomes like pensioners and children. By building new or opening old stations and lines, and making stations fully accessible we can encourage more people to use the railways. We would look to increase the capacity on the railways and invest in new rolling stock. All of this needs to be part of a fully integrated transport policy that includes improving bus services and cycling facilities to make it easier to get to the railway stations. Bringing the railways back into public ownership is central to delivering these improvements. If elected you can be sure this is an issue I will campaign strongly about.

Andrew

Summary of today’s announcement

  • The Green Party proposes cutting the cost of public transport for passengers by 10% on 2015 ticket prices.
  • The 10% cut to fares would be paid for by increasing the level of public investment in rail and bus fares by around £1.8 billion per annum.
  • The £9 billion cost over the course of the next parliament would be met by scrapping most of the Government’s £15 billion new road building programme. This would still leave £6 billion for other transport uses.
  • This cut to the new roads programme would not affect road repairs or safety improvements to existing roads.
  • Under the Green Party’s plans fares would be cut by 10% in 2015 and held at this lower rate in real terms for the duration of the next parliament.
  • Over time the Green Party would return the railways to public ownership to secure a cheaper and better service. The Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has proposed a Railways Bill that would bring franchises into public ownership as their contracts expire.

Full briefing document http://greenparty.org.uk/files/Transport%20fares%20briefing%20FINAL.pdf 

Natalie Bennett visits Leeds West today

Natalie Bennett, the Leader of the Green Party of England & Wales, is in Leeds on Thursday 2nd October to take part in an evening event at Leeds Beckett University organised by The Academy of Urbanism entitled “Where Will Our Grandchildren Live?”

Natalie is one of five guest speakers from the public, private, and voluntary sectors who will discuss the issue of the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions being expected to increase in population by well over half a million people in the next 25 years (and over a million people in the next 50), and where do we intend to accommodate everyone? With successive governments talking about Eco-Towns and then Garden Cities and New Towns to try and meet some of the demand, the speakers will consider what our region’s real choices are.

Before her speaking engagement, Natalie will spend the afternoon visiting the parliamentary constituencies of Leeds West and Leeds North West with Green prospective parliamentary candidates Andrew Pointon, and Tim Goodall.

In Leeds West the tour includes visiting Old Farnley Community Centre for “Eat Well, Be Well” Group, meeting residents and local Green councillor Ann Blackburn, discussing the scandal of food waste at the Real Junk Food Project Cafe in Armley, heading to Bramley to view LILAC, the UK’s first affordable ecological cohousing project, and seeing the site of the former Armley & Wortley railway station, one of several former stations in the constituency that the Green Party would like to see reopen. The Green Party believes that improving urban railways in this way would be a better use for the money allocated to the HS2 rail project.

Keeping with the theme of the evening event, Natalie will spend time in North West Leeds visiting a proposed housing development at Moseley Woods in Cookridge, which has proved unpopular with local residents. This area is currently categorised as a P.A.S. site (protected area of search) and this means that there is a strong possibility of building taking place on this land. The proposed site is currently marsh land with extremely poor drainage, so concreting the area means the risk of flooding is greatly increased. The area also currently attracts many types of wildlife. Along with local residents, the Green Party would like to see this area reclassified as greenbelt land.

Notes:

1. More details on the “Where Will Our Grandchildren Live?” event can be found at http://www.4x4makingplaces.info/

2. More details of the Real Junk Food Cafe in Armley can be found at http://therealjunkfoodproject.co.uk/

3. More details of the LILAC housing project can be found at http://www.lilac.coop/

4. More details of the Moseley Wood proposed housing can be found at https://www.taylorwimpey.co.uk/proposed-developments/england/west-yorkshire/leeds/cookridge

Andrew Pointon joins Jarrow to London NHS march

Peoples march for the NHS

On Saturday 16th August a group of mums concerned and outraged at the assault by government on our most prized possession began following in the famous footsteps of the Jarrow Crusade. They are marching 300 miles, through 23 towns & cities all the way to London & Parliament. They will serve notice to every politician that voted to destroy our NHS. They were joined along the way by Green Party members from Leeds. 

Marchers walked from Harrogate to Leeds on Friday 22nd August and then on Saturday 23rd August from Leeds to Wakefield to highlight the plight of the NHS and how close it is to privatisation.

The campaigners went on to Barnsley on Sunday, and from there to Sheffield on today. Tomorrow the march sets off for Chesterfield. The full NHS March Map can be found here – http://999callfornhs.org.uk/detailed-map-route/4583636068

Leeds Greens on the 999 Call for the NHS march

On the Leeds to Wakefield leg of the march Leeds Green Party members took part proudly carrying the Party’s banner, several completing the full distance.

Andrew Pointon, the Green Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Leeds West who was on the march on Saturday said:

“I wholeheartedly support this campaign and it is an honour to march alongside these inspirational people. I lived in the USA for six months and I have experience of both health systems. It strengthened what I already knew, that the NHS is a national treasure and we must defend it. I dread it being sold off leaving us with something like the Americans must suffer and millions of them can’t afford.

The British people must wake up to the real threat the NHS faces from those seeking to sell it off bit by bit to profit-seeking corporations. The Green Party believes we must fight to keep our beloved NHS, and we must send a strong message to any government that its sale must be reversed and it should remain in public hands. All the very best to the marchers on their journey to London.”

 More photos from Saturday 23rd August

Andrew Pointon at the NHS march

Andrew Pointon, Green Party PPC for Leeds West

Tina Pointon and Joe Salmon at the NHS march

Tina Pointon and Joe Salmon at the NHS march

NHS banners in Leeds

Green Party Keep Our NHS Public

 

An active weekend in Bramley for Andrew

Bramley Baths Community Garden Open Day

Bramley Baths Community Garden Open Day

Andrew Pointon attended two excellent events in Bramley this weekend. On Saturday afternoon Andrew visited the opening of the Bramley Baths Community Garden and on Sunday he joined Green councillors, members and supporters on the Green Party stall at Bramley Carnival.

The Bramley Baths Community Garden is an initiative run by volunteers to get people interested in gardens and growing their on food. One of the volunteers is Kate Bisson, the prospective local election candidate for Bramley & Stanningley ward in 2015 and she was handing out produce that had been grown in the garden.

Andrew Pointon & Kate Bisson at Bramley Baths Community Garden

Andrew Pointon & Kate Bisson at Bramley Baths Community Garden

Kate said:

“We are trying to show people what can be grown and we are trying today to encourage people to come and help themselves to the edible plants we are growing here.”

Andrew enjoyed a tour of the gardens and then spoke to local residents over a cake and coffee. He said of the community gardens:

“This is a brilliant idea on so many levels. It’s making great use of of this part of the baths, encourages community spirit, and provides good healthy food for people to harvest for themselves. It also shows people what can be done with just a small flowerbed”

On Sunday Andrew was one of the volunteers running the stall for the Green Party, which provided leaflets about we do and our policies, and offered cake for donations to raise vital funds for our campaigning. Cllr Ann Blackburn and our new councillor, Terry Wilford, were also there engaging with members of the public. It gave them chance to distribute our Bramley Green View newsletter and discuss with people local issues they have like the speeding cars on the Fairfield estate. Kate Bisson, who has been the Green Party candidate in Bramley & Stanningley ward also helped on the stall throughout the day.

Andrew with Green Party members at Bramley Carnival

Andrew with  Green  members at Bramley Carnival

Andrew said about the carnival:

“We all had a fantastic day at what is a fabulous and well run community event. It was good to see people from Bramley and further afield coming along to enjoy the carnival and to have chance to listen to their concerns. It was very positive to hear that many intend to give the Greens a chance because they are fed up with the main parties. There is often some surprise that we have policies covering a wide range of issues, and not just the environment, and when people hear them in more detail they really like them. Plus it was good for people to meet our hard working councillors from Farnley & Wortley and see what they get when Greens are elected. I really enjoyed the carnival and the chance to listen to what the local people had to say”.

More photos from the two days in Bramley.

Kate Bisson, prospective local election candidate shows the produce grown  in the Bramley Baths Garden

Kate Bisson, prospective local election candidate shows the produce grown in the Bramley Baths Garden

Kate Bisson with the Bramley Baths Gardeners

Kate Bisson with the Bramley Baths Gardeners

Cllrs Ann Blackburn and Terry Wilford with Green members at Bramley Carnival

Cllrs Ann Blackburn and Terry Wilford with Green members at Bramley Carnival