A GREENER, FAIRER NORWICH: VIEWS OF NORWICH SOUTH CANDIDATE LESLEY GRAHAME #1

by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate. 

Norwich is a fine, radical city, with a long history of voting progressively. That is one of the many reasons why we have 15 Greens on City Council, and 4 on the County Council.

A Greener Norwich would have a viable, sustainable local economy, as a centre of excellence in climate friendly research, technology, training, building, transport and manufacture. Local marketing would enable the city to support local agriculture,strengthening the links between city, university and the surrounding rural communities. Practical measures to reduce emissions would include street by street insulation, along with other forms of readily available, proven and still developing renewable energy, solar panels on every roof, pedestrian, cycling and public transport so people would have far less need to drive.

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SKATEGATE

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by Cllr Sandra Bogelein

(© Cadi Cliff)

(© Cadi Cliff)

Personally I cannot track back where this proposal has come from in the first place: to ban skateboarding in Norwich’s city centre. But as councillors we soon started to receive emails from concerned residents and representatives of the skate community. They regarded this measure of a ban to be a clear overreaction to the problem it wanted to address: damage to the war memorial and memorial gardens. They all felt that protecting this heritage could be achieved without criminalising skateboarders.

Now I just want to make this absolutely clear (again, and I am sure I will nevertheless be accused of not wanting to protect our heritage): the majority of skaters and concerned citizens (I am tempted to even claim all of them), my Green Party colleagues (yes, all of them) and me all want to prevent damage to the war memorial and the memorial gardens. BUT, people supporting the campaign against the ban saw a number of things that were fundamentally wrong with the council’s proposal:Continue Reading

IS RUSSELL BRAND RIGHT? DO WE NEED A REVOLUTION?

by Jack Brindelli.

Naïve. Egotistic. Hypocritical. Russell Brand has been labelled many things since his infamous interview with Jeremy Paxman one year ago – by detractors on the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the established political spectrum. Predominantly the key focus of the ‘discussion’ on Brand has been guided, not so subtly, toward scrutinising a single assertion in that initial interview (despite Brand offering a plethora of other views in that interview and since – to the extent he wrote a book); the assertion that voting has become irrelevant to the bulk of society, as the mainstream political parties lurch uniformly rightward.

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A GREEN RE-INVIGORATION OF WELFARE IN BRITAIN: VIEWS OF NORWICH NORTH CANDIDATE ADRIAN HOLMES #1

by Adrian Holmes, Green Party Norwich North candidate.

Following the economic slump in 2009, the incoming coalition government announced an austerity program to tackle the budget deficit. Since 2010 the main thrust of these austerity measures has been to cut public spending and, in particular, to reduce the welfare budget. People on benefits including the disabled and those with chronic illness, are being targeted by the government in an attempt to get them into work and off the benefits system.

The Work Capability assessment (WCA) was introduced by the last Labour government, creating a new bureaucracy to test the right of welfare recipients to continue receiving benefits. The assessments, carried out by private contractors, have placed stress on people with disabilities to justify their right to help. The cost in wasted resources in holding the assessors to account is also high; with an increasing number of appeals being found against the companies used to carry out the assessment.

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GRASSROOTS UNIONS: NORWICH BARTENDERS’ AND HOSPITALITY UNION

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by Ella Gilbert and Francis Bell

Bartenders, waiters, baristas and other hospitality workers have one thing above all else in common: we are over-worked, under-paid and misrepresented. We are both bartenders, and we deal with drunken idiots, entitled twats, and aggressive yobs on a daily basis. Woman bartenders also have to deal with unwanted sexual advances and harassment, comments about our clothing choice, and implicit assertions about who we are and what we’re doing there. Despite all of this, we value our work, and we want to do it well – for those that actually appreciate what we’re doing, and for those that are well-behaved and fun to spend time with.

All of these things were important at the inception of the Norwich Bartenders’ and Hospitality Union. Norwich has a pub for every night of the year, as well as its fair share of cafés, restaurants, hotels and other service industry employers. We are committed to a multi-faceted approach to the hospitality industry: we want to improve our members’ skills and create a pool of people who are committed to, and good at, their jobs. We also want to challenge the daily issues faced by workers in the sector – discrimination, low pay, difficult customers, demanding management and limited employment rights. On top of that, we want to educate people in the sector on their rights and represent them in any employment disputes or grievances that arise with their employers. In that regard, we’re committed to forming positive relationships with management, rather than antagonising them, and demonstrating that the NBHU is a collection of workers who really care, and are the kind of employees you want, and need, to run a business in Norwich.

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STANDING UP TO UKIP IN YARMOUTH

by Nick O’Brien

We are Norwich is a broad anti-racist coalition formed to resist the visit of the English Defence League to Norwich in November 2011. We were supported back then actively by over twenty different local trade union branches, religious organisations, and community groups.  We also received support from the Union of UEA Students.  Since then we have kept active, holding a carnival in support of immigration in the centre of Norwich, and putting on cultural evenings with musicians and poets such as Hollie McNish.

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NORWICH CLAIMANTS UNION

by Norwich Claimants Union (NCU)

The Norwich Claimants Union represents the coming together of claimants, workers, union representatives and city councillors to oppose and intervene in government policy regarding the deliberate and calculated erosion of the welfare state. To achieve this, the government supported by the mainstream has demonised claimants. They have become the scapegoat for our failing economy and societal degradation.

Since the recession of 2008 this campaign against claimants has gathered momentum. However it is worth remembering that the recession, bank bailouts and austerity programs was the result of the miss selling of financial products, namely derivatives. The effect was to transfer wealth away from our financial system and into the hands of a relatively small number of ruling capitalist elite.Continue Reading