Topics of Interest

THE CENTRE FOR ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY.

CAT is an educational charity dedicated to researching and communicatng positive solutions for environmental change. Find out more about what we do and how you can get involved.

Situated near Machynlleth it’s well worth a visit.  Take the Birmingham- Aberystwyth train. But learn more here:- https://www.cat.org.uk/about-us/

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An Election Summary – thanks to our local Green candidate – Ben.


Pie charts that may help.

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An answer to Brexit! Why didn’t they tell us?
97 Reasons for Remaining in the EU: Membership of the world’s largest trading bloc with over 500 million consumers, representing 23% of global GDP – but it’s not just about economics!

  1. The UK has greater global influence as a member of the EU 
  2. The EU provides a counterweight to the global power of the US, Russia and China
  3. With Trump in the White House the UK’s strongest natural allies are France, Germany and our other West European neighbours
  4. Tariff-free trade within the EU
  5. The abolition of non-tariff barriers (quotas, subsidies, administrative rules etc.) among members
  6. Participation in free trade agreements with Japan and Canada as an EU member
  7. The EU accounts for 44% of all UK exports of goods and services
  8. The EU accounts for 53% of all UK imports of goods and services
  9. Cheaper food and alcohol imports from continental Europe
  10. As a member of the EU the UK maintains a say in the shaping of the rules governing its trade with its European partners
  11. 3.1 million jobs in the UK are directly linked to exports to the EU
  12. Free movement of labour has helped UK firms plug skills gaps (translators, doctors, plumbers)
  13. Free movement of labour has helped address shortages of unskilled workers (fruit picking, catering)
  14. The Single Market has brought the best continental footballers to the Premier League
  15. The EU accounts for 47% of the UK’s stock of inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), worth over $1.2 trillion
  16. Access to the EU Single Market has helped attract investment into the UK from outside the EU
  17. No paperwork or customs for UK exports throughout the single market
  18. Price transparency and removal of commissions on currency transactions across the Eurozone
  19. FDI into the UK has effectively doubled since the creation of the EU Single Market
  20. The UK’s net contribution to the EU budget is around €7.3bn, or 0.4% of GDP (less than an eighth of the UK’s defence spending)
  21. No time consuming border checks for travellers (apart from in the UK)
  22. The City of London, as a global financial hub, has acted as a bridge between foreign business and the EU
  23. British banks and insurance companies have been able to operate freely across the EU 
  24. Cornwall receives up to £750 million per year from the EU Social Fund (ESF)
  25. Structural funding for areas of the UK hit by industrial decline (South Wales, Yorkshire)
  26. Support for rural areas under the European Agricultural Fund for Regional Development (EAFRD)
  27. EU funding for infrastructure projects in the UK including £122 million for the “Midlands engine” project
  28. Financial support from the EU for over 3,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK
  29. EU funding for the British film industry
  30. EU funding for British theatre, music and dance
  31. EU funding for British sport, including football apprenticeships, tennis and rugby league
  32. Glasgow (1990) and Liverpool (2008) benefitted from being European capitals of culture, stimulating their local economies
  33. EU competition laws protect consumers by combatting monopolistic business practices
  34. Strict controls on the operations of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in the EU
  35. Human Rights protected under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
  36. The death penalty can never be reintroduced as it is incompatible with EU membership
  37. Minority languages such as Welsh and Irish are recognized and protected under EU law
  38. The right to reside in any EU member state
  39. The freedom to work in 28 countries without visa and immigration restrictions
  40. The mutual recognition of professional qualifications has facilitated the free movement of engineers, teachers and doctors across the EU
  41. The mutual recognition of educational diplomas
  42. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) has standardized assessment of language proficiency across the EU
  43. The freedom to study in 28 countries (many EU universities teach courses in English and charge lower fees than in the UK) 
  44. The Erasmus programme of university exchanges (benefitting 16000 UK students a year)
  45. The freedom to set up a business in 28 countries
  46. The ability to retire in any member state
  47. Pension transferability
  48. The right to vote in local and European Parliamentary elections if resident in any member state
  49. EU laws making it easier for British people to buy property on the continent
  50. The right to receive emergency healthcare in any member state (EHIC card)
  51. Consular protection from any EU embassy outside the EU
  52. The EU has played a leading role in combatting global warming (Paris 2015 climate change conference)
  53. Common EU greenhouse gas emissions targets (19% reduction from 1990 to 2015)
  54. Improvements in air quality (significant reductions in sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) as a result of EU legislation
  55. Reductions in sewage emissions
  56. Improvements in the quality of beaches and bathing water
  57. EU standards on the quality of drinking water
  58. Restrictions on landfill dumping
  59. EU targets for recycling
  60. Common EU regulations on the transportation and disposal of toxic waste
  61. The implementation of EU policies to reduce noise pollution in urban areas
  62. EU policies have stimulated offshore wind farms
  63. Strict safety standards for cars, buses and trucks
  64. Protection of endangered species and habitats (EU Natura 2000 network)
  65. Strict ban on animal testing in the cosmetics industry
  66. Membership of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which monitors the quality and safety of medicines (until recently located in London)
  67. 13% of EU budget earmarked for scientific research and innovation
  68. The UK receives £730 million a year in EU funding for research
  69. EU funding for UK universities
  70. Cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy as a member of Euratom
  71. Minimum paid annual leave and time off work (Working Time Directive)
  72. Equal pay between men and women enshrined in European law since 1957
  73. The right to work no more than 48 hours a week without paid overtime 
  74. Minimum guaranteed maternity leave of 14 weeks for pregnant women
  75. Rights to a minimum 18 weeks of parental leave after child birth
  76. EU anti-discrimination laws governing age, religion and sexual orientation
  77. EU rules governing health and safety at work
  78. The rights to collective bargaining and trade union membership are enshrined in EU employment law
  79. The UK enjoys an opt out from the single currency and maintains full control of its borders as a non-member of the Schengen area
  80. Since 1985 the UK has received a budget rebate equivalent to 66% of its net contribution to the EU budget
  81. EU cross-country coordination offers greater protection from terrorists, pedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
  82. The European common arrest warrant
  83. Europe-wide patent and copyright protection
  84. EU consumer protection laws concerning transparency and product guarantees of quality and safety
  85. Improved food labeling 
  86. A ban on growth hormones and other harmful food additives
  87. Cheaper air travel due to EU competition laws
  88. Common EU air passenger rights
  89. Deregulation of the European energy market has increased consumer choice and lowered prices
  90. Mutual recognition of the common European driving license
  91. The introduction of the European pet passport
  92. The abolition of mobile telephone roaming charges
  93. The EU acts as a guarantor of the Irish Good Friday Agreement
  94. A frictionless Irish border
  95. The EU acts as a guarantor of the special status of Gibraltar
  96. The EU helped support and maintain democracy in Spain, Portugal and Greece from the 1970s and these countries have become major destinations for British tourists
  97. EU membership has helped facilitate intercultural dialogue
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TREE PLANTING !

On Nov. 30 thirty folk turned up to the Tree Planting organised by the young sixth form student, Nimi, as NUS Tree person & Woodland Trust, plus Matt – Sutton Park ranger. There were quite a few Green and local Amnesty International  folk also there. Three of the SC candidates turned up to dig & plant – tho’ not Andrew Mitchell.  We learned that he was in Mere Green with a load of blue rosetted beings.
— – A Good job done!  More are scheduled!!

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Report on recent meeting of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council.
Firstly a selective summary supplied by D.Ratcliff from the main council minutes of September 24th 

55  Notice of Motion Submitted by Cllr C Horrocks on 16th Sept 2019.
Cllr Horrocks asked Council to consider engaging and consulting with local groups in Sutton Coldfield to hear innovative ideas and develop a realistic, ambitious, achievable strategy to help overcome barriers and become more environmentally conscious. 
Several councillors spoke in support of the motion. Cllr Raut applauded the communities that held regular litter picking and said that some members of the Royal Sutton Indians had pledged to plant trees. Cllr Cairns asked if schools could have some involvement to build on the Town Council funded Modeshift stars initiative.
Resolved that this Council will commit to a series of environmental-themed engagement workshops and sessions, with a view to determining how best RSCTC can continue to deliver on its environmental objectives for the Town. Delegation will be given to the Planning and Highways Committee for this activity.  

55. 56  Response to Sutton Coldfield Gateway Consultation: It was resolved to note the response to Transport for West Midlands proposals to develop an improved bus interchange and public realm for Sutton Coldfield. [Presumably referring to the inconvenience of the less able- bodied who prefer the present bus stops where the shops are easily accessible at either side of the same road!]

Agenda 22 October.
 Receipt of the draft  strategic town plan ( 56 pages downloadable from here:- https://www.suttoncoldfieldtowncouncil.gov.uk/the-council/draft-strategic-plan-2020-2023/
See also the document:- https://www.suttoncoldfieldtowncouncil.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Strategic-Plan-2020-2023-Consultation-Review-October-2019.pdf 

Budget proposals for the committees:  (It is uncertain how the “allocated reserve system” is worked)

Planning and Highways Minutes 8 Oct: Wildflower planting budget £20,500   2 Phase 8 monopoles 20 m high. 

Objections received to  Planning application for the Walmley  ASDA extension from a local objector.

Agenda for 12th November. Budget proposal  Road safety £25 k Historical monument future £100k per year. Strategy and resources
Next meeting 19 Nov  No agenda 

Amenity and leisure committee Discover Sutton Coldfield. Headings for website.  Advice & Guidance. Arts & Culture. Community Action Groups. Family Support. Health & Wellbeing. Older Adults. Parks & Playgrounds. Religious Groups. Sport & Recreation. Young People. 

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The Observer didn’t publish this letter from Ben.  But it deserved publication – so here it is.

Dear editor,
I am dismayed by your choice this week’s Sutton Coldfield Observer (11th Oct 2019) to allow the Conservatives to buy your ‘wrap around and write’ pretend articles. This paper has given the Conservatives a free pass on many things before but when you literally allow them to write your headlines then you have sold the paper’s credibility far short.

Having jewellers or double glazing adverts is one thing, most people know what to expect and can ignore it but this native advertising for a political party is wrong. This is nakedly biased before an election and puts all your local news integrity into question. When you next want to scrutinise a local policy or publish stories embarrassing to politicians, you become much easier to dismiss.
Will you now be producing wrap arounds for Labour and the Greens for balance?   Yours etc.”

Climate Emergency – Help wanted.

COPY and SEND THIS LETTER to each of the following!:-

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected],
[email protected],
[email protected],
[email protected],
[email protected],
[email protected],
[email protected]
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected], [email protected],|
[email protected], [email protected],

Public Consultation on RSCTC policy on Climate Change
Dear Councillors,

[INSERT YOUR OWN MESSAGE HERE,
SAY WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU:   THEN:-]

As part of the public consultation on the Town Council Strategic Plan and planned public consultation on the council’s climate change policy (proposed by Cllr Horrocks on 24th of September 2019) we would like to suggest the following policies for Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council to adopt.
Overall Strategy:
There is a devastating Climate Emergency and our town will answer the call to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to save lives and livelihoods.
Transport:
Highways and planning should prioritise pedestrian, cycling and public transport. Reducing the number of car journeys in Sutton Coldfield is the best way to make our town cleaner, healthier and reduce the traffic congestion.
The Town Centre should change pedestrian crossings to prioritise pedestrians.
Extend and improve the Blue Route Cycling routes to include more of Sutton Coldfield and improve cyclist safety on our roads.
Electric vehicle public charging points to be incentivised.
Reduce the number of School run car journeys. Air pollution in schools is a major health risk for children and the localised pollution from vehicles in traffic around schools is a primary concern for parents.
Renewable Energy:
Town Council and partner’s assets should run on renewable energy from on-site or community renewable energy systems or purchased off the national grid.
The council should tackle fuel poverty by advocating for and subsidising the installation of renewable energy systems and thermal insulation for low income households.
The council should not accept planning applications that do not meet the Passivhaus standards for building.
Waste:
The council should become leaders in waste management for the West Midlands.
The Council should facilitate domestic food waste recycling for anaerobic digestion before it becomes mandatory.
The council should host a series of engagements with businesses to reduce packaging and single use plastics.
Biodiversity:
The council should optimise the planting trees and bushes in public areas that would provide beneficial biodiversity.
The council should adopt a policy of re-wilding grass verges to promote wildflowers and insects.

Kindest Regards,

(Name, Address etc.)

 

Latest!

Years of campaigning by Campaign for Better Transport and others has finally paid off with the announcement that the Government will deliver a National Bus Strategy next year, meaning buses will no longer be the Cinderella of transport modes.

This is fantastic news for communities up and down the country who have borne the brunt of degrading and withdrawn services in recent years. But what will the strategy look like?

Passenger numbers have been falling steadily in recent years, partly due to a reduction in services and partly because buses simply haven’t been practical for lots of people to use. Therefore one of the main aims of the National Bus Strategy should be to increase passenger numbers; to do that we need to make buses a no brainer.

We need a programme of investment in both physical and digital infrastructure and a new generation of modal interchanges connecting bus networks with other forms of transport. We need multi-modal ticketing, contactless payment and integrated journey planning so passengers can plan and execute their journeys with less effort.

We also need bus travel to be cheaper. One of the recommendations in our recent report, The future of the bus, was a local trial of free or reduced price bus travel, along with targeted support from Government to reduce fares for young people across the country.

For more on this go to
https://bettertransport.org.uk/blog/buses/finally-a-national-bus-strategy

 

Coastal landfill erosion

Walney island.                                  (Alamy Images)

With this picture of landfill rubbish in an eroding sea wall at Walney Island our member Ben Auton introduces a topic of serious concern along with a call for action.

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Here in Sutton Coldfield we are as far from the sea as we can get, but this doesn’t prevent our horror at seeing plastics and other waste ending up in our oceans, our beaches, our fish, and eventually our food-chain. BBC1’s recent programme War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita highlighted the dumping of the UK’s plastics waste in East Asian countries and how that affects UK waters and seas globally.

There is, however, a more chilling cause of waste washing up on our own beaches – waste that comes from our own landfills. Of the estimated 26,000 landfill sites in the UK there are (at least) 1264 historic landfills in England and Wales that fall within tidal zones but are undefended. Accordingly they are susceptible to coastal erosion. Landfills have often been placed in low-lying areas next to the coast and around estuaries precisely because such areas are prone to flooding and the land is accordingly cheaper. This has been causing problems for years.

A recent study (Brand et al. 2017) conducted by Queen Mary University of London examined several landfills on the Thames Estuary and were concerned to discover breaches in the sea defenses and contaminants in the surrounding environment. Most landfills have sea water in them because their floors were not capped and sea water has seeped in through the ground. This seepage allows contaminants like lead, cadmium and cancer-causing compounds such as polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) to escape into the local environment. The areas surrounding some coastal landfills have estuarine muds well in excess of marine sediment quality guidelines.

In other cases like East Tilbury, the researchers found that breaches in the sea defenses allow waste to escape unchecked from landfills into the sea. This enters estuary and sea environments adding to the already major problem of plastics and other waste being eaten by fish and seabirds. Such unchecked damage to wildlife can have catastrophic effects on biodiversity and human fish consumption. Many of these coastal landfills are adjacent to protected areas like internationally recognised wetland areas (Ramsar sites), other sites of special scientific interest, nature reserves and bathing waters.

In a particularly ‘novel’ idea, waste from Hadleigh Marsh Landfill, which closed in 1987, was used to build the flood defences to protect the landfill and nearby railway line. As this flood defence erodes it is releasing its waste straight into the sea.

With rising sea levels and more stormy weather in the UK, coastal flood defences are under greater threat of failure. Encroachment of the sea will inevitably result from climate change, and all our coastal assets require protection or better management. More coastal defences and better lining and capping of these landfills would be an option but the sea will eventually always win. Relocating this waste as part of a managed retreat is believed to be the best option but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Lack of funding is the primary reason preventing solution to these problems. The austerity policy budgets of the Environment Agency and local authorities have meant that flood protection has had to be focused on built-up areas instead of protecting wastelands. Until further research proves that this contaminated land is causing harm to humans, local authorities are going to be unwilling to do anything without threat of prosecution (see Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part 2A regulations).

What can you do?
There are many ways to get involved, from picking up five pieces of litter on your next day at the seaside; to increasing awareness of this issue; and contacting politicians such as your MP or MEPs to ask them to tighten water resource and environmental protection laws and to include coastal landfill erosion as a major issue.

Figure 1: landfill rubbish in sea cliff on Walney Island, Barrow In Furness, photograph by Ashley Cooper, Alamy Images.

Brand, James & Spencer, Kate & O’Shea, Francis & E. Lindsay, John. (2017). Potential pollution risks of historic landfills on low-lying coasts and estuaries: Potential pollution risks of historic landfills. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water. e1264. 10.1002/wat2.1264.

A Tory view on Cycle Routes.

One of our members recently wrote to Conservative Birmingham City Councillor Meirion Jenkins about the need for more and better cycle routes into and around the city.

Here are the revelant parts  of his reply:

 “Although I very much enjoy using the bike for rides in Sutton Park and do sometimes cycle to the High St, as you also rightly say, cycles have limited scope as a practical means of travel in Sutton because of safety concerns.  I never feel terribly comfortable cycling on the Lichfield Rd.
 
“At the same time, right now, it is private motor transport that keeps the economy of our town and city moving and we risk great damage to our prosperity through Labour’s ongoing ‘war on the motorist’.  Labour’s plans for a congestion charging zone will damage our economy and it will be the least well off that will always suffer most.  At the last election, we put forward plans that would have addressed the issue of air quality without damaging the economy of our city.”

Such a laissez faire view is totally at odds with Green Party policy and while giving this opinion Councillor Jenkins doesn’t  miss the chance also to take a swipe at the Labour council for its attempts to solve the problem of deadly traffic pollution.

Our Green Party view is clearly laid out in its manifesto:-

      Invest in low traffic neighbourhoods and safe, convenient networks of routes for walking and cycling.
      Safe places for learning to cycle, so people of all ages and those with disabilities can choose to make local trips on foot, by bike or mobility scooter.
      Help end the public health crisis caused by air pollution by increasing incentives to take diesel vehicles off the roads.

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Send us your views on the question of cycle routes and on air pollution.

Local recycling.

“Put the funk into junk”“Junk is for life and not just for landfill” – two of the mottoes adopted  by the Jericho Reusers Centre in Norris way next to the city’s recycling base.

We endorse these sentiments!!

They sell a huge variety of items which they’ve refurbished.

Another  Green venture is Joe’s small Studio at The Mitchell Centre on Weeford road.

There he  repaints, re-varnishes and renovates tired items of furniture and other articles which one might have been tempted to send to the tip.

 

Reducing the amount of waste that goes into land-fills is a key aim in the Green party’s encouragement of sustainable growth.

Let us know of any other such projects.

Bonfire night – wildlife warning

IF YOU ARE HAVING A BONFIRE AT ANY TIME IN THE COMING MONTHS, make sure that pile of stuff does not become a towering inferno for wildlife.

While it’s being built up over the days, it becomes an attractive refuge for hedgehogs, frogs & toads, insects galore,  that are essential for natural processes in the garden.
Preferably, pile the stuff to be burnt to one side of where it is to be lit.  Build the structure as near to the time of ignition to cause the lodgers to evacuate safely & not return.

We’ve checked even small heaps placed for burning and they’re busy communities!  A previous year, in a two foot high pile in a three foot wide fire pit – WE FOUND FOUR LARGE TOADS, 23 SMALL FROGS, smaller than the gell one pictured here, PLUS INVERTEBRATES OF ALL KINDS.

The Tories are worried!

What do you do if you are out canvassing and you knock on the door of someone who tells you he or she is a member of the BNP or UKIP – but there is no BNP nor UKIP candidate? An old advice sheet isssued by Chelmsley Wood Councillor Chris Williams suggested that nevertheless they are urged  to vote;  but to vote Green not Labour nor Conservative.

Birmingham Post Thursday Oct. 18 2018

In the House of Commons Solihull Tory MP Julian Knight asked Theresa May to condemn the Green party for issuing this advice. It shows that the Tories are really worried at the huge surge in support for the Green Party not only in Solihull but nationwide.
The Greens’ response was:

“The Green Party offers a solution of hope, not hate, and we are proud to have taken seats from UKIP, erased the BNP in Solihull and to offer an anti-establishment alternative that can challenge the politics of hate. Only by winning votes from the disenfranchised and changing the narrative can we defeat the far right, which the Green party is helping to do.”

 

Useful links./

OUR CANDIDATE for the Walmley and Miinworth by-Election March 28 –   [email protected]

Facebook:-     Sutton Coldfield Greens

Andrew.Mitchell[email protected]
Help in writing letters to him:-
https://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Letter_writing

Sutton Coldfield Greens group contact:- david ratcliff[at]lineone.net

Newsletter team – starpsyke[at]talktalk.net

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER TRANSPORT https://bettertransport.org.uk/