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Sheffield councillor cleared of breaching tree-felling order

green alison sheffieldAlison Teal, a Sheffield Green party councillor, has been found not guilty of breaching a court order while trying to stop trees being felled in Sheffield.

The councillor for Nether Edge and Sharrow, could have faced up to two years in jail for allegedly ignoring an injunction brought by Sheffield city council over its controversial programme, which has resulted in about 5,500 mature trees being chopped down.

But a high court judge decided she had not breached the order, brought by the council in August against her and eight other named individuals.

Afterwards, Teal accused Sheffield council of behaving like bullies. She castigated the authority for using public money to try to put her in prison, saying their pursuit of her for peaceful protest was “frightening for democracy”.

Mr Justice Stephen Males said he could not be certain on the evidence presented that Teal had entered a so-called safety zone erected around trees when they were due to be felled.

About 500 more trees are earmarked for removal as part of the council’s six-year programme, many on the city’s leafiest and wealthiest streets.

They have been the subject of an increasingly bitter war between the Labour-run council and residents, who dispute the council’s claim that the trees are a hazard for pedestrians and cyclists. There is also strong disagreement over whether the trees, many of them well over 100 years old, are still in good health.

The council, along with Amey, the outsourcing company given a £2.2bn PFI deal to carry out the tree felling, has been heavily criticised for trying to criminalise protesters and for heavy-handed tactics.

More than 100 people gathered outside court on Friday to show solidarity with Teal, including the former Green party leader Natalie Bennett and the Green peer Jenny Jones. There were loud cheers from the public gallery at the end of the hearing.

Sheffield council has yet to reveal how much public money it has spent pursuing the tree protesters through the courts. It was represented at Friday’s hearing by two barristers, including the QC David Forsdick.

Teal’s barrister, Catherine Casserley, said she would be applying to the court for the council to pay her legal costs, estimated at about £15,000.

Teal said she was “very relieved” to have the case against her dropped and criticised the council for pursuing her through the courts, using public money that would be better spent developing a “proper tree strategy”.

She said: “It’s just absolutely disgraceful, absolutely incredible that they would to this. I did feel it was a politically motivated decision that they made to pursue me.

“It’s really frightening for democracy. They don’t seem to appreciate the importance of having an opposition and how that does help a democracy from functioning properly … I’ll be frank, they have behaved like bullies.”

Written by  North of England editor and Kate Solomon.  Originally published by the Guardian.

We are with you Alison

green alison sheffieldToday our Sheffield councillor Alison Teal faces prison. Her crime? Peacefully protecting ancient trees.

Across Sheffield, thousands of healthy trees are being chopped down just so a private contractor can do its job on the cheap.

As a Green councillor, Alison joined local residents to resist this assault on Sheffield’s heritage. She put her body in the way of the saws. She was arrested. She was given an injunction.

But she didn’t give up or go away. And now the Labour Council want to throw her in prison, just for standing next to a tree.

We have a message to Sheffield Council: We 100% back Alison. And we will never give up on peaceful protection of our living world

Basic Income Not Universal Credit

basic incomeThe case for the Universal Credit (UC) would make far more sense headed ‘Universal Basic Income’ (UBI) yet there has been no mention whatsoever of the UBI in debates recently.

The original report ‘Dynamic Benefits: towards Welfare that works’ is not easy to find. I think the government would be embarrassed if anybody more famous than me drew attention to it. Search ‘Centre for Social justice’, Click ‘Policy Work’, then ‘Publications’. You then had to find the right page from about 13 (it was published on 16th September 2009), but strangely, the link for ‘Publications’ where I have accessed the report before did not work today. However, it came up when I searched for ‘Dynamic Benefits’  whilst on the CfSJ website.

Passages should have been read out in last Thursday’s Parliamentary debate on the UC (18.10.2017). Its cardinal point is that the UC would

Make work pay

because it recognized, and claimed to deal with the poverty trap created by means testing.

The UBI will make work pay, but even if the UC was not dogged by the delay in payments, it would do so only marginally. ‘Dynamic Benefits’ sets out in a series of graphs how means tested payments are exactly the same as a tax for those losing them as they obtain other income. At best, the UC would reduce effective tax rate equivalents from between 90% and 100% to just over 70%. UC claimants receive only 35% of their former earnings, which is an effective tax rate equivalent of 65%, but even if they pay no tax, workers pay National Insurance contributions.

I tried to insert the UBI into the public debates on the UC on ‘Any Questions’ and ‘Question Time’ (BBC TV and Radio 4), but it seems not to be gaining enough ground for anyone involved with those programmes to notice its relevance to the UC debate.

I had hoped that the debate in Parliament might be better informed. Both Caroline Lucas And Mhairi Black (SNP, member of the Work & Pensions Select Committee) spoke in the debate. Caroline’s contribution was only on a point of order. Perhaps she was one of the those who did not get the opportunity to contribute content to the debate, but she could have discussed the whole issue with Mhairi Black, who did.

Mhairi’s contribution rose above the general debate, which otherwise consisted mainly of a series of a succession of painful instances of the effect of the UC, and disgraceful party-line Conservative repetitions deploring ‘negativity’. Mhairi began by acknowledging and welcoming the stated intention of the UC, but this is where she could and should have inserted the Basic Income principle into the debate.

I know why Ms Black did not mention the UBI The crucial factor is covered in this official summary of the enquiry into the principle by the Work & Pensions Select Committee in January 2017. Frank Field, Chair of the committee has always been against the Basic Income, but he was quite restrained in his cross-examination. If coming to the idea ‘cold’, I would have not have been swayed by the efforts of the UBI team to overcome the Committee’s doubts on funding, and disability payments.

There are at least partial answers to both, sufficient for either Caroline Lucas or Mhairi Black to mention the crucial relevance of the underlying principle, particularly in the light of the failure of the UC roll out already apparent in January 2017. Full rollout was supposed to be 2018. Five years since launch it has reached 8%, and is projected to be completed sometime in the 2020s. The entire sanctions régime assumes the UC is in place, and should be scrapped without it, not just for the 8%, but for the 92% who are not receiving the UC anyway.

For Ms Black simply to add the above facts about the fundamental inadequacy of the UC regardless of the current difficulties would have been an enormous step forward.

Dynamic Benefits’ is not just an excellent, though clearly unintended statement of the case for the Universal Basic Income, it even provides unintended ways towards answers to the apparent problems.

It comes down to money – specifically redistribution. The Centre for Social Justice was set up by Iain Duncan Smith as a right-wing Think tank. ‘Dynamic Benefits’ is surprisingly hard-hitting in its attack on means testing, but its remit was to provide an answer which did not involve redistribution.

Those graphs in ‘Dynamic Benefits’ give the game away. They show, for different family configurations, the loss of means tested benefits on the same graphs as taxes, because that is what they are for the person losing them. All graphs (the one at the top of this page is one) show a massive mountain of withdrawal of benefits on low income, and a fairly low plateau of taxation on high incomes.

What ‘Dynamic Benefits’ does not show you is the effect the Universal Credit would have. On the graph at the top of this page, draw a straight line at 72% up to the point at which all means tested benefits are lost. That replaces the higher withdrawal rates which still apply for the vast majority.

If it is impossible to devise a system whereby everybody gets a starting sum, and loses exactly the same proportion of that sum whatever their other income, then the economy is already bankrupt. Of course that is not the case, but putting everyone on the same, fair, starting line will entail redistribution. According to Richard Murphy, it could be done by abolishing personal tax allowances, and increasing the basic tax rate to 23%. Even if these figures are over-optimistic, why has Caroline Lucas, who is aware of my approach, not yet pointed out any of this in Parliament?

Disability.

In 1979 there were two rates of Supplementary Benefit: a Short Term Rate for those temporarily without any other income, and a Long Term Rate for categories not (then) expected to find work. Thatcher decided that they were unnecessarily generous.

But a large number of individuals who did have disabilities had until then notclaimed benefits. The unintended (giving Thatcher the benefit of the doubt) consequence of ‘reform’ was that such individuals were now forced to claim disability. Even worse, since the sanctions regime was introduced in 2012, those operating the system have no alternative but to assume that every new disability claimant might be able bodied, trying to avoid sanctions.

Unfortunately the employment situation has deteriorated considerably since 1979, so it would cost more money to reinstate that system now, but at least logically it should considerably reduce the disability benefits bill without the cruelty currently being used for that purpose

My main reason for the Basic Income is to allow everybody to think ecologically. But they certainly can’t do that whilst waiting for their Universal Credit.

Written by Clive Lord, originally published at clivelord.wordpress.com

There’s Only One Way to Avoid Climate Catastrophe: ‘De-growing’ our Economy

carbontaxYou can almost feel the planet writhing. This summer brought some of the biggest, most destructive storms in recorded history: Harvey laid waste to huge swathes of Texas; Irma left Barbuda virtually uninhabitable; Maria ravaged Dominica and plunged Puerto Rico into darkness. The images we see in the media are almost too violent to comprehend. And these are the storms that made the news; many others did not. Monsoon flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal killed 1,200 people and left millions homeless, but Western media paid little attention: it’s too much suffering to take in at once.

What’s most disturbing about this litany of pain is that it’s only going to get worse. A recent paper in the journal Nature estimates that our chances of keeping global warming below the danger threshold of 2 degrees is now vanishingly small: only about 5 per cent. It’s more likely that we’re headed for around 3.2 degrees of warming, and possibly as much as 4.9 degrees. If scientists are clear about anything, it’s that this level of climate change will be nothing short of catastrophic. Indeed, there’s a good chance that it would render large-scale civilization impossible.

Why are our prospects so bleak? According to the paper’s authors, it’s because the cuts we’re making to greenhouse gas emissions are being more than cancelled out by economic growth. In the coming decades, we’ll be able to reduce the carbon intensity (CO2 per unit of GDP) of the global economy by about 1.9 per cent per year, they say, if we make heavy investments in clean energy and efficient technology. That’s a lot. But as long as the economy keeps growing by more than that, total emissions are still going to rise. Right now we’re ratcheting up global GDP by 3 per cent per year. At that rate, the maths is not in our favour; on the contrary, it’s slapping us in the face.

In fact, according to new models published last year, with a background rate of 3 per cent GDP growth it’s not possible to achieve any level of emissions reductions at all, even under best-case-scenario conditions. Study after study shows the same thing: keeping global warming below 2 degrees is simply not compatible with continued economic growth.

This is a tough pill to swallow. After all, right now GDP growth is the primary policy objective of virtually every government on Earth. Over in Silicon Valley, tech-optimists are hoping that a miracle of artificial intelligence might allow us to decarbonise the economy by 3 per cent or more per year, so we can continue growing the GDP while reducing emissions. It sounds wonderful. But remember, the goal is not just to reduce carbon emissions – the goal is to reduce them dramatically, and fast. How fast, exactly? Climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows say that if we want to have even a mere 50 per cent chance of staying under 2 degrees, rich nations are going to have to cut emissions by 8-10 per cent per year, beginning in 2015.  Keep in mind we’re already two years in, and so far our emissions reductions have been zero.

Here’s the hard bit. It’s just not possible to achieve emissions reductions of 8-10 per cent per year by decarbonising the economy. In fact, there is a strong scientific consensus that emissions reductions of this rate are only feasible if we stop our mad pursuit of economic growth and do something totally unprecedented: begin to scale down our annual production and consumption. This is what ecologists call ‘planned de-growth’.

It sounds horrible, at first glance. It sounds like austerity, or voluntary poverty. After all, for decades we’ve been told that GDP growth is good, that it’s essential to progress, and that if we want to eradicate poverty around the world, we need more of it. The only reason we’re all chasing GDP growth is because we’ve been made to believe that it’s the only way to improve the incomes and lives of ordinary people. But it’s not.

Politicians and economists rally around GDP growth because they see it as preferable to redistribution. They would rather grow the pie than go about the messy business of sharing what we already have more equally, since the latter tends to upset rich people. Henry Wallich, a former member of the US Federal Reserve Board, made this clear when he pointed out that ‘Growth is a substitute for equality’. But we can flip Wallich’s greedy little quip on its head: if growth is a substitute for equality, then equality can be a substitute for growth. By sharing what we already have more fairly, we can render additional economic growth unnecessary.

In this sense, de-growth is nothing at all like austerity. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Austerity means cutting social spending and slashing taxes on the rich in order to – supposedly – keep the economy growing. This has crushing consequences for ordinary people’s lives. De-growth, by contrast, calls for cutting the excesses of the richest while redistributing existing resources and investing in social goods – universal healthcare, education, affordable housing etc. The whole point is to sustain and even improve human wellbeing without the need for endless economic expansion. De-growth is a philosophy that insists that our economy is already more than abundant enough for all of us – if only we learn how to share it.

One easy way to do this would be to roll out a universal basic income and fund it through new progressive taxes – taxes on carbon, on land, on resource use, on financial transactions, and so on. This is the most sensible and elegant way to share our abundance, and it comes with an added benefit: if the basic income is high enough, it will free people to walk away from unnecessary jobs that produce unnecessary stuff, releasing some of the pressure on our planet.

Crucially, de-growth does not mean we have to get rid of the stock of stuff that we already have, as a nation: houses, furniture, shoes, museums, railways, whatever. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that we have to stop producing and consuming new stuff. It just means we have to reduce the amount of new stuff that we produce and consume each year. When you see it this way, it’s really not so threatening. If we degrow by 5 per cent per year (which is what scientists say is necessary), that means we have to cut our consumption of new stuff by 5 per cent. It’s easy to make up for that by just repairing and reusing stuff we already have. And we can encourage this more creative approach to stuff by curbing advertising, like Sao Paulo, Chennai and other cities have done.

Of course, there are deeper, more structural dimensions of our economy that we will have to change. One of the reasons we need growth is to pay off all the debt that’s sloshing around in our economy. In fact, our entire money system is based on debt: more than 90 per cent of the currency circulating in our economy is loans created out of thin air by commercial banks. The problem with debt is that it comes with interest, and to pay off interest at a compound rate we have to work, earn, and sell more and more each year. In this sense, every dollar of new money we create heats up the planet. But cancel the debt and shift to a debt-free currency, and suddenly we don’t have to labour under this relentless pressure. There are already plenty of ideas out there for how to do this.

Still, we have to be honest with ourselves: : the Stern Review projects that climate change is set to cost us 5-20 per cent of global GDP per year, which is going to violently change our economy beyond all recognition, and cause enormous human suffering in the process. The storms that churned across the Atlantic this summer are only a small taste of what is to come. The choice is clear: either we evolve into a future beyond capitalism, or we won’t have a future at all.

By Jason Hickel, originally published by P2P Foundation

3G Pitch Battle – Children At Greatest Risk

3G Cancer
Ex-NHS chief claims 3G football pitches may have given his son cancer – Mirror Online

The lines have been drawn at a Wellingborough Leisure Centre, but nanoparticles will cross them.  The proposed Redwell 3G Pitch is next to a primary school, and tyre rubber crumb dust from the pitch will blow into classrooms.  Studies have shown these invisible nanoparticles act like asbestos.  We all now about illnesses caused by asbestos, which is why local people want to know why they and their children should be exposed?

Occasional Exposures Reduce Risk

Stuart L Shalat, scientist at EOHSI (Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Institute) states “Given that there are only occasional exposures this tends to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.” But local residents argue that there are no “only occasional exposures” for the children in the adjoining school nor for the people living in neighbouring houses.

This really needs rethinking before it turns into something as bad as asbestos.  Children at Redwell School, next to the proposed field, will have this toxic, ultrafine nanoparticle, nanotube carbon black rubber dust blowing over their playground and into their classrooms every single minute they are at school unlike the football players who will only be exposed to this toxic air for the short time they play their games.

Local Children At Greater Risk

There is more chance of local children potentially ending up with serious illnesses as well as all the people in the neighbouring houses even though they are not actually playing on the field! We feel that this shouldn’t be allowed and that someone at Wellingborough Borough Council has to take responsibility and stop this 3G pitch being built. The lives of all the children at the next door school are put at risk! This is not right.

Wellingborough Borough Council (WBC) is going by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) report Feb 2017 that has so many assumptions and uncertainties.  ECHA acknowledge this and actually say they have made assumptions and have listed their uncertainties.  ECHA issued a notice of restriction of use of rubber crumb on 30th June 2017, due to come into effect on 13th April 2018. Wellingborough Borough Council have chosen to ignore the this.  The FA, Sport England, and all the other stakeholders, go by the ECHA Report and they have also all, so far, ignored the ECHA restriction of the use of rubber crumb notice.

Will It Even Be Used?

In 2015, Borough Councillor, Valerie Anslow, urged the council to consider the new 3G pitch to be unnecessary.  The jointly owned all weather pitch on Wrenn School, London Road is well used both by the school in the day and by community groups in the evening. To put another pitch on Redwell site would mean that its use was limited during the day – this is evident in the lack of people using the leisure centre and the decision to limit the opening times for community use. The cost of the proposed 3G Pitch, inclusive of lighting and fencing, is £600,000, with £300,000 funding from the FA, WBC will have to match this.  This is a huge expense for a cash strapped local council, particularly if another 3G pitch may not be viable.

 

 

 

7,500 Signatures To Save Our Trains

saveourtrains7500We have hit another major landmark, 7,500 signatures online. Please do keep sharing – SaveOurTrains.co.uk – especially on a variety of social media (twitter, Instagram, tumblr…) and by email.

However, NOW is the time to send in proper consultation responses. The deadline is Wednesday (11th)

Please use your own experience and your own words. Guidance can be found at
www.facebook.com/groups/EastMidlandsPassengers/470963946620795/
Consultation responses can be given by emailing EastMidlandsFranchise2017@dft.gsi.gov.uk (perhaps using their PDF – www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/consultation_response_form_data/file/611/east-midlands-consultation-response-form.pdf).

Key points:

Oppose the “proposed approach” (question 4). Making an artificial split of services between the Corby-London “high capacity electric commuter service” and Intercity services that will not stop between London and Kettering does not match reality or people’s travel needs. Commuters travel from further than Corby into London, and to places other than London.

All of Luton, Bedford, Wellingborough, Corby, Oakham and Melton Mowbray should keep InterCity trains. (Questions 4&5)

As well as to/from London, additional seats are needed into Leicester from Luton/Bedford/Wellingborough/Kettering in the morning, and more back in the evenings. More seats are needed departing from Sheffield in the late afternoon/early evening on the Norwich/Liverpool service. (Question 6)

Wheelchair spaces are a legally required facility that cannot be de-prioritised. After them, next most important is the ability to reserve seats remotely, including for season ticket holders to be able to reserve one seat in each direction every day online/by telephone. (questions 7 & 8).

There should be more carriages on InterCity trains to/from London (rather than all extra carriages being on the “electric commuter services” to/from Corby), more frequent services between Luton/Bedford/Wellingborough/ Kettering and Leicester/East Midlands Parkway/Derby and more carriages on Liverpool/Norwich trains leaving Sheffield in the late afternoon/early evening. (questions 9 and 10)

For airports (question 14) – to East Midlands Parkway: there should be hourly through trains from Luton (or Luton Airport Pwy)/Bedford/W’boro. Through trains hourly from Nottingham/Beeston/Loughborough/Leicester/Market Harborough/Kettering/W’boro/Bedford direct to Luton Airport Parkway should be retained.

Liverpool-Norwich services should NOT be split, either at Nottingham or Sheffield (questions 15 &17). Regular through trains are vital for passengers.

The franchisee should be required, in times of disruption (if any train movements on the route are possible) to run at least one train per hour in each direction on the following calling pattern: StPancras-Bedford-Wellingborough-Kettering-Market Harborough-Leicester- East Midlands Pwy-Long Eaton-Derby-Chesterfield-Sheffield, and at least one train Leicester-Loughborough-East Midlands Pwy-Beeston-Nottingham, or the closest approximation possible (assuming Thameslink can run StPancras-Bedford, to call at Luton AirportPwy). It should not be acceptable for the service between any pair of these stations to drop below one train per hour, even in disruption (question 20)

Improving access requires minimising the need for passengers to change trains. Luton and Market Harborough stations urgently require full accessibility, and Beeston requires improvements. Reliability of station lifts needs improving. Wheelchair users frequently have an hour added to their journey when a lift fails. Lift maintenance contracts should include a service level agreement that the number of call-backs or outages due to equipment failure should not exceed three call-backs per year, per lift. Scheduled preventative maintenance per month should be not less than three hours per lift, to be undertaken between 10am and 4pm or between 10pm and 6am. Emergency call-backs should result in attendance within 30 minutes in all cases. Lift contractors should be required to maintain an inventory of relevant parts to deal with 90% of failures at locations within 150 miles of the relevant lift. Where station lifts have failed, the default method of enabling access, if there is no alternative level access to the same platform, should be by re-platforming of trains (regardless of whether the station is operated by another operator or by the franchisee), with taxis only being used where crossovers to enable re-platforming are not in place (question 21).

As for Question 30:
An acceptable service on the mainline would have each hour at least two trains making the journey Bedford-London (and vice versa) in less than 40 minutes, at least two Welling¬borough-London (and vice versa) in less than 55 minutes, at least two Kettering-Lon¬don (and vice versa) in less than 65 minutes, at least two Market Harborough-London (and vice versa) in less than 75 minutes, at least two Leicester-London in less than 70 minutes, at least two doing Loughborough-London in 100 minutes or less, at least two doing East Mid¬lands Parkway-Lon¬don in less than 110 minutes, at least one doing Beeston-London in less than 115 minutes, at least one doing Nottingham-London 100 minutes or less (and a second in less than 120 minutes), at least one doing Long Eaton-London in less than 120 minutes, at least two doing Derby-London in less than 130 minutes, at least one doing Chesterfield-London in less than 115 minutes and at least one doing Sheffield-London in less than 125 minutes (and a second in less than 150 minutes).

The franchisee should be required to work with other stakeholders towards providing a second fast line platform at Bedford, in addition to the existing northbound platform. Such a platform could cut journey times to London by up to 5 minutes for trains stopping at Bedford.

Electrification for the whole route London-Nottingham and London-Sheffield via Derby is important.

Save Our Trains: Wellingborough Action

saveourtrainswtcGreen Party members and local campaigners have been out today in Wellingborough Town Centre.  They gave out over 300 leaflets telling shoppers about Monday’s consultation.

Marion Turner-Hawes, Green Party General Election Candidate 2015, said “The campaign had a pretty good response today and quite a lot of people said they would come along on Monday.”

The public consultation event organised by the Department for Transport will take place at Wrenn Academy on Doddington Road, from 6pm to 8pm on Monday, October 2nd.  It will give local people a chance to ask questions and air their views.

If you can’t get there you can upload the consultation here -https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630614/east-midlands-rail-franchise-public-consultation.pdf

There will also be a protest outside the Wellingborough Consultation starting from 5:30 with East Midlands ‘Save Our Trains’ campaign leaflets being handed out with the link to the consultation document.

Olly Feeley-Sprague, Program Director at Amnesty International, said “We are going to get our campaign seen and make our voices heard on Monday.  Please do join our campaign, details will be on Facebook soon.”

Memory Walk

There is a Memory Walk and Picnic in Wellingborough on Sunday 1st Oct. It has been organised to support Alzheimer and dementia sufferers, carers, family and friends.

The walk starts 11am-12 at Wellingborough museum, and culminates with a picnic in Bassett’s Park is from 12-5pm.  It’s a short walk (approx 1.5 miles) taking in some of the most interesting areas of the town. Bound to evoke memories of bygone years. Open to all and there is no charge.

There is live entertainment after the walk, from the a 20+ piece brass band playing on Bassett’s Park band stand. The band will feature players from Kettering, Rushden and Thrapston brass bands. There is also more entertainment, including some singing/guitaring from Daniel Butterworth and Paul Strummer, playing a few oldies but goodies songs to evoke memories.

More information about the event can be found at Bright Copper KettlesWellingborough & District Memory Walk

Save Our Trains: Wellingborough Consultation

saveourtrainshouseA petition against plans to radically change train services in the north of the county has attracted 4,000 signatures.

The ‘Save Our Trains’ petition opposes a proposal to end direct intercity trains for Luton, Luton Airport, Bedford, Wellingborough, Melton Mowbray and Oakham.

Plans are also on the table for a reduced service between Leicester and Kettering.

If the proposals go ahead, passengers travelling north from Wellingborough will have to change on to the reduced service at Kettering.

Ben Foley of the Green Party and East Midlands Rail Campaign, who set up the SaveOurTrains.co.uk petition, said: “If enough people join the 3,700 who have already signed the petition, we have a real chance of not just stopping the worst of the proposals, but of ending with the best train service yet on this route.”

The petition also opposes the decision to scrap the electrification of the line north of Kettering.

The plans could also see journey times increase because of slower trains and lines.

Samantha from Burton Latimer signed the petition.

She said: “Why should there be fewer trains when current trains are already overcrowded with many people paying and having to stand?

“Also does the Government think fewer people want to go north of Kettering or fewer people north of Kettering want to travel south?”

Wellingborough MP Peter Bone has also written to Mr Grayling to on behalf of Wellingborough Council over its concerns.

There will be a public consultation event organised by the Department for Transport at Wrenn Academy on Doddington Road, from 6pm to 8pm on Monday, October 2nd. See the Facebook event for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/140431043237396/

It will give local people a chance to ask questions and air their views. If you can’t get there you can upload the consultation here -https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630614/east-midlands-rail-franchise-public-consultation.pdf

 

Save Our Town Centres

WP_20170916_09_11_50_ProOur town centres are dying, because of the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour.  All of these parties support out of town retail parks including Rushden Lakes, and all do not support small businesses, including shops, cafes and pubs, in our town centres.  I simply do not understand why we are letting our town centres turn into ghost town centres and why are local elected politicians letting our local shops die?

In Wellingborough and Rushden today we have scores of empty units and with more closing every week, how long will it be before we have lost every independent or small chain store from our town centres?  The latest victim is Captain Neil’s Toy Chest who are set to close their Wellingborough shop by the end of October; and Brides who closed in the town at the end of August.  In Silver Street, Wellingborough, half of the units are empty and more are closing!

The Green Party think that this is unsustainable.  Providing shops that are only accessible by car is a recipe for more traffic congestion and pollution.  The less well off are excluded from these new out of town shopping centres because there is little or no public transport to them.  These new developments divide society by solely focussing on those who can afford to get to them.  No politician who supports these developments is standing up for all local people.

The new Rushden Lakes development has destroyed a wildlife habitat, already created congestion and will mean many more car journeys locally, adding to pollution.  I was the only candidate standing for MP in Wellingborough and Rushden who has consistently opposed this development on environmental grounds and on the damage it will do to local town centres.

The desertion of local town centres has already started to Rushden Lakes, with shops from Northampton relocating there (https://t.co/kv6zDJJ0Mn)  I take it personally that the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems support environmentally terrible schemes that destroy local businesses and wreck local town centres.  I will stand up for local business.