Posts Tagged ‘environment’

What on earth is going on with Sheffield’s Labour council?

21/11/2016, 10:27:00 PM

by Lucy Ashton

Sheffield’s ruling Labour councillors took complete leave of their senses last week in a scandal which made national news headlines.

For 18 months, residents in leafy Ecclesall have been fighting council plans to chop down eight mature trees which have stood there for generations and border one of the most well-loved parks in the city.

The trees are part of a beautiful street scene and there’s no doubting the environmental benefits which they bring to a city which is congested and has suffered severe flooding in the past.

But the crux of this issue is that Sheffield Council entered into a contract with private provider Amey to resurface the city’s streets and roads. Amey promptly decided to fell swathes of mature, healthy trees across the city to cut maintenance costs.

Despite an independent tree panel – set up by the council – ruling five of these eight trees should remain, councillors decided they’d had enough of listening to voters.

So they cut down the trees in the middle of the night. Twenty-two police officers were dispatched to protect Amey workmen as they sliced in the darkness. Unbelievably, police knocked residents up at 4.45am and told them to move their cars.

Two women in their 70s who tried to stand and protect the trees were arrested and held in custody until teatime. Within hours, the eight glorious trees were chippings.

Unsurprisingly, residents, the Lib Dems and the media were incredulous and outraged. Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose Sheffield Hallam constituency covers the area, was quick to condemn the move as “inexcusable” and “underhand”.

His criticism was echoed by Lib Dem Peer and local Lib Dem Councillor Lord Paul Scriven, who had previously raised the issue in Parliament.

Meanwhile, Labour supporters were left stunned and disgusted. Several took to twitter to say they would not vote Labour again, despite being party members.

The whole debacle is simply beyond belief. At what point did someone think this was a reasonable idea? And when they suggested this madness, why did no one else intervene? How could elected councillors and officers sit around a table and agree this was justified? What precedent does this set?

When was cutting down trees, sending police to wake people in the night and arresting elderly people socialism? The council has only just recovered from searing criticism for closing libraries across the city. How can chopping down trees, which neighbour a public park and offer huge environmental benefits, be for the greater good of the community?

No one has been more vocal about the police’s behaviour at Orgreave than Labour yet here they are, using the same heavy-handed tactics.

I agree with the Labour Party members now questioning their loyalty. These councillors will bully campaigners, send the police in the night and see pensioners arrested rather than question financial details with their own private contractors.

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former regional newspaper Political Editor

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Green industry should be at the heart of Britain’s growth, says ffinlo Costain

10/10/2010, 12:49:13 PM

In his first speech as Labour party leader Ed Miliband said, ‘No plan for growth means no credible plan for deficit reduction.’  He’s right. But where will growth come from?

When Miliband was energy and climate change secretary the answer was clear: it would come from delivering a low carbon economy in Britain.  But the framework for that transition, set in place by Labour when in government, is now under sustained attack by the treasury, despite David Cameron’s pledge that his would be Britain’s ‘greenest-ever government’.

Many fear that the comprehensive spending review on October 20th will be the death knell for the renewable heat incentive, the green deal, the green investment bank, essential port development, and even the department of energy and climate change (DECC) itself.

Politicians such as shadow energy minister, Emily Thornberry, representatives from greenpeace, friends of the earth, and the TUC, as well as business leaders from the micropower council and the federation of master builders have articulated the need for concerted pressure to ensure the Tories and Lib Dems live up to their pre-election and Coalition Agreement promises.


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Monday News Review

16/08/2010, 07:30:29 AM

Milburn: not getting off lightly

More Milburn

Contenders for the Labour leadership will probably be more guarded in their language but would be equally displeased since they might have expected to use the talents of Milburn in opposition.
Leadership contender Andy Burnham said that if Milburn accepted the job it would be a “kick in the teeth” to Labour supporters. – The Guardian.

Health Emergency campaign information director John Lister warned that Mr Milburn is a free-market “fundamentalist.”  “Milburn’s the one who introduced neoliberal policies in the NHS – clearly he’s been brought in to do a similar job in terms of social mobility,” said Mr Lister. Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott branded Mr Milburn a “collaborator.” Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths was more blunt. “The rats have left the sunken ship and scrambled aboard the Con-Dem vessel – which is heading for a similar fate,” he said. – Morning Star.

Disaster Funding

Government funding for global disasters such as Pakistan’s floods faces being scrapped as part of the coalition government’s plans to cut back on international aid, the Labour party has warned. The central emergency response fund (Cerf), which helps countries respond to natural disasters, is on a list of more than 80 commitments targeted for cuts by the department for international development (Dfid). The list was revealed last week in a leaked memo from DfId director of policy, Nick Dyer, to secretary of state for international development, Andrew Mitchell, in which Dyer suggested where cuts could feasibly be made. He recommended the cabinet minister should honour 19 of the 80 pledges, but the Observer today reported that Mitchell had agreed to honour only eight of the promises. – The Guardian.


Coal power: remaining a contentious issue

Green issues

Green groups are aghast that a flagship policy called for in opposition by both Lib Dems and Tories, and which they last year tried to force on the Labour government, will now not be implemented in the coalition’s first energy bill to be published this year. Their criticism of the government’s commitment to green issues follows news last week that nature reserves could be sold off as countryside protection measures also bear the brunt of budget cuts in the Department for Environment. – The Guardian.

A matter of support

It would, of course, be stretching things to say that the public loves the coalition. While its net approval ratings remain positive, they are declining. The novelty of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats working together has largely worn off. Support for the opposition Labour party has hardened over concern about the scale and severity of the cuts the government unveiled in its emergency Budget in June – FT.

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