THE RIVER WENSUM STRATEGY: A JOINED UP, COMPARTMENTALISED, CONSULATION

by Rowan Van Tromp

Last month Norwich City Council opened up a public consultation on the river Wensum to gather views that will be used to shape a strategy aimed at breathing new life into the river — enhancing it for the benefit of the city and its residents. The strategy forms part of a joined up approach, bringing together the four main bodies (Norwich City Council, the Broads Authority, Norfolk County Council and the Environment Agency) with statutory responsibility for the river.

The consultation asks interested parties to raise general issues and opportunities that the strategy could address — pertaining to the management of the river and its surroundings, as well as river access and use — but makes it necessary to categorise them as relating to either business, leisure or the environment. This pigeon-holing of issues and opportunities is a real flaw in the consultation, mirroring a wider societal issue of evaluating the value of nature through an anthropocentric lens.Continue Reading

THE STRENGTH OF THE VULNERABLE

by Jack Brindelli

“I was taken aback at how brutal the police were,” begins Marion Fallon, a local anti-cuts activist from Norwich, and eye-witness to the events of Wednesday June 24th. “To attack such physically less able people, to protect the elite, really showed how democracy isn’t working. I don’t suppose it occurred to [the police], that disabled people are feeling they have to take more and more drastic measures, as we’re not being listened to and not being treated fairly and equally. I feel very, very worried and scared going forward as the Tories have taken us back decades in what was fought very hard for.”

She was speaking to me after a number of disabled protesters had attempted to gain access to Prime Ministers Questions in demonstration against the government’s ending of the Independent Living Fund. Marion, who is in constant pain and unable to walk without the aid of a stick, is also a first-hand witness of the government’s shameless remodelling of social security, as a recipient of disability benefits, and is extremely concerned for the future.Continue Reading

OXFAM UEA RESPOND TO EAST ANGLIA CHILD NEGLECT FINDINGS

by Oxfam UEA

Oxfam UEA have supported Action for Children’s call for a national strategy on child neglect after research published today found that nearly a third of young people (31 percent) in East Anglia said they have been very or quite worried about whether another child is being looked after properly at home.Continue Reading

OUR HOUSE, IN THE MIDDLE OF NORWICH

by Rowan Van Tromp

House music, unlike other forms of music, is arguably apolitical — given the absence of lyrics. That doesn’t mean that the scene is apolitical however, as Lithuanian DJ Ten Walls found after committing commercial suicide following his public condemnation of homosexuals over Facebook. Subsequently one of the biggest house festivals in Europe, Hideout Festival in Croatia, cancelled his set, stating: “Hideout Festival is an inclusive event, which is open and accessible to all. Our fans and customers are important to us and we do not tolerate or condone any form of hate. For this reason, Ten Walls will not be playing at Hideout Festival this year.”

From its outset in the mid 80’s, house music has been about inclusivity, openness of expression, and removing society’s invisible boundaries. It is an environment intolerant of abuse and discrimination, with violence actively discouraged. The beauty of house music is in its diversity, fluidity, and ambiguity. What house represents for one person may be different to the next, yet they are still drawn together by the same four bar loop. The music in itself is like a socially binding drug.Continue Reading

IF CLIMATE CHANGE WAS AN ILLNESS, WE WOULD IMMEDIATELY START TREATMENT

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by Dr. Hayley Pinto

About 18 months ago I had a life changing experience. I read the intergovernmental panel on climate change report. Before that I thought I was reasonably environmentally aware. I wasn’t. The more I have read, the more evident it seems that climate change is the defining issue of our age. We are on the brink of making our planet uninhabitable, for everyone — not just the poor, the vulnerable, people in Africa and Bangladesh, but also for the rich and privileged, those who have contributed to the problem and those who have not.

Climate change is not just a matter of global warming. A hotter planet means drought, floods, storms and sea level rise. These things are already happening. The 11 million people living in Brazil’s Sao Paolo are experiencing a drought so severe they are trying to drill wells through concrete in the city centre. California is in its 5th year of drought.Continue Reading

GOVERNMENT SLASHES COUNCIL FUNDING – THE GREEN PARTY VIEW

by Andrew Boswell and Richard Bearman, The Norwich Green Party

During the General Election campaign, the Green Party warned of another 5 years of continuing and unprecedented cuts to Local Authority budgets.  We pointed out that the coalition and Labour backed the ongoing austerity programme, and that only the Green Party, SNP, and Plaid Cymru opposed this assault on public services.  Unfortunately the election was strongly influenced by the TV party leaders debate, together with misleading sound bites and on-the-hoof policy changes designed to win over undecided voters.  The election outcome does not reflect the lack of public support for more cuts to local services.

But plans announced this week by Norfolk County Council are seeing more devastating cuts to public services in Norfolk.  Under its ‘Re-imagining Norfolk’ strategy, the Council has asked councillors and officers to plan for 25% of cuts to services in its Budget for the next 3 years.  Current government funding reductions, pushed through by the Tories nationally, will require the council to cut its services by at least 15%.  However the Labour, UKIP, and LibDem alliance has voted for plans to cut 25% instead of the required 15% to allow ‘headroom’. Continue Reading

FOOD WASTE – IS LEGISLATION THE BEST PATH TO FOLLOW?

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by Rowan Van Tromp

The past few weeks have seen waves of literature surrounding the issue of food waste by supermarkets, following the French parliament’s decision to pass legislation compelling retailers with 4,305 square feet of store space to donate any unsold, but still edible, food, to charity or for use as animal feed or farming compost. All stores which fall under this criterion are obliged to sign agreements with charities to facilitate the redistribution of such food by 2016, or could face penalties of up to €75,000.

Calls have since been made for the UK to follow suit, and no wonder given that the UK far and away wastes the most food out of any European country — amounting to 15bn tonnes a year according to the government backed organisation WRAP, although just over 1% of this comes from storesContinue Reading