Wednesday, 31 March 2010

No more Lords!

I can’t believe that in 2010 half of our Parliament is still full of appointed cronies and wealthy donors, a band of aristocrats, and 26 Bishops. Every one of them unelected and unaccountable.

This must change. I’ve just signed a letter to the Party Leaders calling for an elected Lords – and demanding that from today they appoint NO MORE LORDS.

If you think there should be no more Lords – then you should sign it too:

Together we’ll make them listen.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Newtown Plan meeting

The Newtown plan meeting went well last night. It started with singing by two young people from the Ground Roots project .

Then Jenny Sumner from the Council gave a short presentation followed by a question and answer session on the Newtown Plan. She explained that the Thriving Neighbourhood Project has come out of Growth Point Funding from the government and it will run for three years.

Then people were free to mingle and visit the different stalls: Newtown GLOBE, Newtown NAG, Communicare, Health activists, Youth Services and the police.

More information on the plan here:

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Tory candidate for Park Ward announced

A bit more information about my Tory council opponent taken from councillor Richard Willis's blog:

"Park – John Walker
John has lived in Reading since 1997. He is married and has two children, both of whom were born in Reading and attend local schools. Interested in community issues for many years, John’s first involvement in campaigning was with schools admissions policy issues in 2004 when he successfully fought to end first preference selection for entry to primary schools.
He is a long-time supporter of several charities including the RSPB, the Campaign for Real Ale, the local Wildlife Trust and he is also involved with Beavers and Cubs."

I am still none the wiser as to what he has been up to in the ward. But the least I know his name now.

Budget March 2010

We were calling for a radical budget that put fairness at the heart of the government's agenda. We wanted a state pension, set at £170 a week; a nationwide programme to insulate homes and create jobs; and an end to the zero-rating of VAT on new dwellings. However we just got a few tweaks at the edges and more of the same. They may be New Labour but their ideas are old and tired.

Monday, 22 March 2010

A month in the life of a Green Party campaigner -- February

Sorry about the delay in posting my February update, but with elections fast approaching I find myself very busy. We have been switching from our year-round doorknocking into elections mode for the locals in May and the general whenever that will be.

Council meetings -- 0
Community meetings and events -- 9
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 6


-- continued my campaign to make the Council and councillor activity more transparent
-- campaigned on better NHS dentistry
-- supported Go Green week with Reading University Students' Union
-- supported the Robin Hood Tax campaign
-- continued the campaign for universal free school meals here
-- questioned the benefits of city status for Reading
-- attended the sustainable schools event in Reading
-- campaigned against Reading University cuts
-- continued to press for action on the dangerous and illegal car parking problems at the junction of St Peters Road and Church Road
-- reported abandoned Tesco trolleys around Newtown


-- Thames Valley University playing fields are safe for now
-- got the Council to look into plastic bag recycling
-- got the Council to consider if the yellow line at the bottom of St Peter's Road good be extended to remove the bottle neck
-- got the bushes which were blocking the pavement cut back on Eastern Avenue, Bulmershe Road and Wokingham Road
-- got a bin for litter on the corner of St Peters Road and Lennox Road
-- helped residents with housing benefit problems
-- got a deep clean for Tuns Hill Cottages

Friday, 19 March 2010

Green Party -- Fair is worth fighting for!

This was printed in today's Evening Post.

Everyone knows that the Green Party has sound policies on the environment. But what we find it harder to communicate being a smaller party are our equally good policies in other areas.

This year we will be fighting the general and local elections under the slogan "Fair is worth fighting for". This will help us to get across our policies on creating jobs, alternatives to spending cuts and plans to protect and improve the NHS.

But before I get into all that I wanted to take the opportunity to plug our European election result. We finished in second place overall in east Reading wards! This shows what is possible under a fairer electoral system. It is also part of the building of the Green Party in Reading and another second place for my collection -- at the last local elections I finished in second place in Park Ward and came within 20 votes of becoming Reading's first Green councillor.

But back to policy. You can’t cut your way out of a recession. That’s why we need government investment in things that will create jobs and keep the economy turning. So, we are fighting for an immediate £44bn investment package, to create over a million new jobs that will start building the 21st century infrastructure Britain needs, with public transport that works and with warm, cheap to run homes.

We think it's unfair that irresponsible bankers go on earning extortionate salaries while 330,000 people still earn below the minimum wage. Greens in Parliament will fight for a fair ‘Living Wage' for everyone, and a High Pay Commission to make sure millionaire bankers and other highly paid executives in the private and public sectors are not rewarded for failure.

Westminster Greens will also fight for a fair deal for those needing health care, by opposing cuts, closures and privatisation and demanding a full programme of locally accessible services. As an MP I would fight to restore free dental care, to provide everyone with the choice of an NHS dentist, and to put an end to the scandal that nearly one in two children under the age of five is showing signs of tooth decay.

I hope that has given you a more rounded picture of the Green Party? Remember fair is worth fighting for! And the only wasted vote is one you don't believe in.


For more information please contact Rob white on: 07985 923938

Caroline Lucas on Question Time

You can watch Green Party leader Caroline Lucas answering questions on Question Time here.

From memory topics that were discussed included the LibDem porn movie director candidate, Jamie Bulger and the age at which children can be considered as criminals and Unite, Ashcroft and dodgy donations.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Climate change hustings 2010

See below for the details of the Reading East climate change hustings. Candidates from all the main parties are confirmed apart from Rob Wilson from the Tories who even though he was asked what date suited him has refused to get involved.

Hustings election 2010

Climate change a sustainable Reading who gets your vote?

In 2010 Reading East will elect its MP for the next five years.

Find out what your candidates would do to combat climate change and help build a more sustainable Reading.

Quiz the candidates

Chaired by Professor Chris Garforth, Reading University

Tuesday 13 April 8 pm
The Warehouse, 1a Cumberland Rd RG1 3LB

Do you have a burning question:

environment, energy, transport, biodiversity, sustainable economy?

Submit it in advance at

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Newtown Plan

The Newtown Plan has finally been released. It will be going up on the Council website but in the meantime I have uploaded it here.

There is also a list of useful contact details which you can find here.

These documents have come out of a fairly broad community consultation in the Newtown area. The East Reading Community Workers Lunch -- which I go along to -- will act as the steering group from now on.

There is also a more detailed plan that sits behind these documents, but which isn't publicly available.

This is great news for Newtown and should give initiatives in the area a bit more focus. Hopefully it will also get more people involved with local groups and activities.

Finally, there is a public meeting to launch the plan on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 7.30pm in the Sun Street Youth & Community Centre.

Friday, 12 March 2010

SDP and an independent to stand in Reading East

Apparently, at the recent agents meeting it was announced that in Reading East we may have an SDP candidate and an independent. We had an independent at the last general election in Reading East, but no SDP. The Liberal Democrat vote would seem the most in danger from an SDP candidate. But as no one knows who the candidate is at this stage I don't think they have that much to worry about as the mystery candidate won't have very much time to build a profile.

If my memory serves me correctly, the Tory candidate Rob Wilson stood for the SDP in the past.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Deposit secured, donations for Freepost leaflet needed

Just a quick update on our Reading East fundraising. We have now sold 25 election bonds to cover our £500 deposit -- which every candidate/party has to pay to stand in the general election, you get it back if you get over 5% of the vote -- in Reading East. Thanks to everyone who bought one!

The next challenge is to raise funds to cover the Freepost leaflet. This is the leaflet that the Royal Mail will deliver for free to every house in the constituency -- which is a massive saving on paying to post the leaflet. However, you still have to pay to get the leaflet printed. This will be a really important part of our campaign to spread our message "Fair is worth fighting for!" -- creating jobs, alternatives to cuts and protecting and improving the NHS -- to everyone in the constituency. So the next challenge is to raise £600 to cover this. All donations welcome, you can give via PayPal -- in the right-hand column of the website -- or by posting a cheque payable to Reading Green Party to 22 Cumberland Rd, Reading, RG1 3LB.

I have put a meter in the right-hand bar to show how we are doing and got the ball rolling with a £20 donation.

Cheap massage

As someone on a low income I am always interested in ways to save money. A while ago I discovered that you can get a cheap -- £8 -- massage from Thames Valley University's students on Crescent Road who are on a relevant course. It took me a while to try this out, but I got down there earlier this week. After a short assessment, I got a very relaxing massage! Recommended.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Action for children

In my capacity as Parliamentary candidate for Reading East I have just signed the action for children pledge:

"Early intervention is the best form of child protection and the best way of making sure children thrive. In the UK we spent too much time and money picking up the pieces when it's too late. This has to change and we need your help to make it happen."

This is well and truly at the centre of the Green Party Parliamentary campaign under the slogan "Fair is worth fighting for!". Unfortunately this will be one of the areas which suffers under the "swingeing cuts" being proposed by the three main parties as positive programmes such as Sure Start face cuts to budgets.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Call for councillor Hartley to resign

Councillor Jon Hartley in Park Ward seems to be in a spot of bother. Allegedly he has been failing to turn up to important meetings and may have misled the Council.

I would say maybe he had not been attending some of the council meetings because he was busy with casework. However as my recent Freedom Of Information Request has shown, at less than one item per month this is not the case.

If it is shown that Councillor Hartley has deliberately misled the Council then he should resign. Otherwise he will need one almighty grovelling apology!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Fundraising quiz brings in £50...more needed...

Our Green Party fund-raiser quiz went well bringing £50 into the campaign. It was an enjoyable evening -- even though I am rubbish at quiz questions! The live fiddle music and singing was especially good.

However, we are still a good £700 short of funds for the Reading East campaign! If you've got any fundraising ideas for us -- and more importantly time to put them into practice -- let me know. Alternatively you can always make a donation and encourage friends and family to do the same via our PayPal donate link on the right.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Council tax meeting farce

This year's council tax debate appears to have been another farce.

Apparently the Tories were in the loo or something for a key vote, which meant the Labour Party had a majority in the chamber and could vote through whatever they wanted. However, earlier in the evening when the Tories were in the chamber debating they were calling for a totally unrealistic freeze on Council tax which would have surely meant cuts in local public services.

On the one hand the Labour government has shafted local councils by cutting money given to them. But on the other hand politics is the art of the possible and if you simply say that you are going to freeze Council tax because the government isn't properly funding councils, then you will have no choice but to cut public services, and as always it will be the poor and vulnerable that suffer.

I would usually parcel out some of the blame to the Liberal Democrats saying "if you don't like the Labour budget, then why don't you get together with the Tories and pass your own budget" but with the high levels of incompetency within the Tory ranks I just don't think this would have been possible.

So we have ended up with a council tax rise of 2.2%.