The Greens’ deputy leader has piled the pressure on a tree-chopping Labour council | The Canary


The Green Party has thrown its weight into a debate about a Labour council chopping down public trees. And no, it’s not Sheffield. The Greens’ deputy leader was out supporting campaigners in South Tyneside.

An issue of paving?

As The Canary previously reported, South Tyneside Council has been chopping down trees in and around South Shields. It claims it’s doing so as part of a footpath maintenance programme. But locals are not happy – not least because, unlike in Sheffield, the council isn’t even replacing the trees on the road where they are felled.

The council’s ‘flags to flexible’ programme revolves around replacing flagstone pavements with bituminous (or tarmac) ones. As a council document shows [pdf, p 44], the majority of footpaths in South Tyneside are flagstone:

 

Source: The Greens’ deputy leader has piled the pressure on a tree-chopping Labour council | The Canary

Sanctioned for not being able to sign on on bank holiday Monday. Tears, frustration and rain.


The poor side of life

Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.

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We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy.  But it’s a whole lot harder for them.

I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at  Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also…

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#Corbyn & The Return of Alf Garnett Or If You Don’t Want a Bulgarian For a Neighbour Vote #Labour?


The ramblings of a former DWP Civil Servant ...

Corbynism is not the future, it is the future refusing to be born

1964, 11 years before the EU referendum of 1975, the West Midlands constituency of Smethwick was the most colour-conscious place in the country, and the scene of a Tory campaign that successfully exploited anti-immigrant sentiment.  The infamous slogan that propelled a Tory into the House of Commons was, “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.”

Peter Griffiths, the successful Tory candidate refused to disown the slogan, “I would not condemn any man who said that,” he told the Times during his election campaign.  “I regard it as a manifestation of popular feeling.”  All sounds rather depressingly familiar, does it not?  One need not strain one’s imagination to hear Farage today saying exactly what Griffiths said to the Times in 1964.  One never, in one’s wildest dreams, expected to hear a Labour leader use the…

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Claiming carers allowance and being made to job search?


The poor side of life

This next story is one we heard last week. The person we spoke to is very adamant that this is the truth, and that this is happening to him. We can only write upon his word, but we did see his paperwork regarding job searches etc.

A gentleman walked out of the supermarket in an obviously agitated way. He was upset so I stopped and asked him if he was ok.
He said that he is a carer for both his wife and his daughter. He is a registered carer and his daughter has learning problems and attends a special school. And that he also receives carers allowance.
He said that he couldn’t understand why the Jobcentre were making him do work searches. He said that they were hounding him constantly. He had already been sanctioned twice because of this.
He has to take his daughter both to and from…

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Tories Waffle to Prevent Bill against Privatisation of the NHS in Parliament


Beastrabban\'s Weblog

Mike over at Vox Political has put up another important piece reporting a filibuster in parliament to ‘talk out’ a bill by the former leader of the Green party, Caroline Lucas. The four Tories, who waffled and blustered in order to prevent the bill being discussed or passed, were David Nuttall, Phillip Davies, Phillip Hollobone, and Sir Edward Leigh.

Mike writes:

It’s hard to think of Philip Davies without imagining that the people of Shipley were so disillusioned with Parliament that they sent a motion of the bowels to Westminster as a sign of their low esteem.

The sh*t from Shipley was one of four Tory MPs who waffled their way through the time allotted for Caroline Lucas’s Bill to stop the creeping privatisation of the National Health Service.

By their actions it is therefore easy to conclude that Davies, Philip Hollobone, David Nuttall and Sir Edward Leigh want to…

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The promised ‘transparency’ around TTIP has been a sham


Original post from The Guardian

‘………….By 

The most important documents about the TTIP talks are unavailable to us MEPs as well as the public – and it suits big business to keep it that way

A Friends of the Earth Europe supporter protests against the TTIP talks. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
A Friends of the Earth Europe supporter protests against the TTIP talks. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Are you concerned about the implication of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? Don’t worry! Only this month, the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström promised another offensive on TTIP transparency: even more documents from the negotiations would be made available.

Her promise was put to the test only a few days later: the corporate transparency nerds of Corporate Europe Observatory finally received documents on exchanges between the tobacco lobby and the Brussels institution concerning TTIP and the EU-Japan trade talks. The punchline of the story? Most of the documents were redacted. An exercise in black humour, in the most literal sense possible. A picture of the blackened documents received thousands of shares and likes on social media since.

This rather amusing episode demonstrates the secrecy that still pervades the trade deals. Certainly, the EU commission has responded to the wave of criticism by civil society organisations against TTIP. A long list of documents, which they had previously kept secret, was published on its website. But the most important TTIP documents are still unavailable. No one knows what the US government is really asking from Europe. This is why many positive as well as negative claims cannot be substantiated, and exaggerations from supporters and adversaries of TTIP dominate the debate. Wikileaks’s offer of a €100,000 reward for the first person to leak the most secret documents is therefore highly welcome.

We shouldn’t make the mistake of focusing too much on TTIP alone, though: not even the EU’s negotiation mandates for most ongoing bilateral trade negotiationsare public.

Unfortunately, most politicians in the European parliament are as much in the dark as ordinary citizens. We MEPs may get access to a few more documents in the parliament’s reading room than those searching the EU commission’s website. Nevertheless, the most important ones containing the demands of the US government are kept secret, even from MEPs. Even worse, although there are thousands of pages of documents, readers are not allowed to take any notes. Non-native English-speaking MEPs are further deterred by highly technical trade-law jargon. And while we could employ staff who are better trained to read the documents, they are not allowed to access the reading rooms. Therefore, the right of access to documents for MEPs is largely a sham. A real understanding of what is going on is only achieved through the actual publication of documents.

 

Green MEPs have consistently demanded that full transparency of trade negotiation should be made a precondition for their progress. I simply do not understand that – in particular – conservative, liberal and socialist colleagues applaud the continuation of negotiations that they cannot effectively control.

In order to regain credibility and public trust, the European Commission should end secrecy in trade negotiations and publish all important documents and in particular all negotiation mandates.

As tempting as it may be to assume that this lack of transparency is solely an EU phenomenon, it is not. International deals have always been negotiated in darkness. This is why not even Europhobic governments such as the Conservatives in the UK have complained credibly about the lack of TTIP transparency. Otherwise it would become too evident that their own international negotiations are hidden behind the same veil of opacity. The European parliament continues to be the only important political space where representatives from different countries negotiate international law under the eyes of the public. This is a historic achievement in building international democracy, of which Europe can be truly proud.

Beyond the lack of transparency, the real trouble with TTIP and the EU’s multitude of bilateral trade deals is not in the method, but in substance. Europe should put its weight behind a multilateral trading system based on open markets, fairness, sustainability and democracy. An equitable reform of the World Trade Organisation rules is clearly better for business and ethics than lots of bilateral trade and investment treaties. It is a myth that the WTO will never progress. The WTO trade talks could succeed if EU member states were ready to end unfair privileges, such as unsustainable agricultural subsidies and an obsession with intellectual property rights even in the poorest countries.

TTIP, CETA and other bilaterals are much more than traditional trade agreements. They are deals aimed at harmonising or mutually recognising regulations and standards for goods and services. This touches the very heart of our democracies in Europe. Certainly international harmonisation of technical standards can enhance efficiency and cut red tape. A TTIP limited to technical standards and their application only could be positive.

But when it comes to values-based choices, democracies must be free to change the level of regulation. Unfortunately, TTIP and co are about the most valuable standards in our societies, such healthy food, stable financial markets or chemical safety. European democracy should be able to increase environmental, social and consumer rights without having to find agreement with trading partners or to put its own businesses into a competitive disadvantage.

Europe must remain free to develop the common market into a space of high standards for consumers, workers and the environment. Blocking this is likely to be the real motive behind the big business lobby’s obsession with TTIP and co. Europe is big enough to sustain a high level of social, consumer, health and consumer rights even in a globalising world. No transnational company wants to stop selling to the European common market. Therefore, Europeans hold in their hand a powerful tool for greening global business. This democratic tool we must not give up for the small potential benefits of bilateral trade deals negotiated behind a veil of secrecy.  …………’

 

ELECTION 2015: Two disabled activists barred from job-sharing MP bids


Original post from Disableded Go News

‘………….

disabled_MP_jobsharing

Disabled activists have been barred from standing as job-share candidates in at least two constituencies in next month’s general election.

At least three serious attempts – two involving disabled people – have been made to persuade officials that two or more people should be allowed to stand together for election to represent a single parliamentary constituency.

But all three attempts have been rebuffed, two by the acting returning officers and one by the Electoral Commission.

Disabled activists believe that allowing job-sharing MPs would lead to an increase in the number of disabled people and women represented in parliament.

Both the Greens and the Liberal Democrats have endorsed the idea of allowing MPs to job-share, and the Lib Dems have included it in their election manifesto.

The Greens say it is still party policy to introduce job-sharing and that it is covered by its manifesto pledge to “work vigorously” towards ensuring all levels of government and public bodies are “representative of the diversity of the populations for whom they work”.

Legal advice from a leading human rights barrister, commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has suggested that the Electoral Commission could be breaching both the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act by refusing to provide guidance permitting job-share MPs.

In the Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency in north London, disabled activist Adam Lotun had hoped to stand with student Zion Zakari as a job-sharing independent candidate.

They approached the Electoral Commission, but Adrian Green, the commission’s regional manager, told Lotun in an email: “Our view is that the law does not allow two or more candidates to stand jointly for election as an MP.”

Green said that the Parliamentary Constituencies Act and the Representation of the People Act were both “written in such a way as to anticipate single candidates for elections to parliamentary constituencies”.

And he suggested that Lotun raise the issue with the Cabinet Office if he believed the law should change.

Despite the advice, Lotun and Zakari approached the Hackney North and Stoke Newington acting returning officer, but were told that they could not be nominated together.

Now they are taking legal advice and considering court action against the Electoral Commission.

Lotun said: “I was disappointed. It just shows that the system is flawed.

“The rules and regulations, if you apply common sense, would suggest there is no reason why people cannot stand on a job share basis at all.”

He said there was no need for new legislation, just fresh guidance from the Electoral Commission, taking account of what the Equality Act says on discrimination against disabled people and other equality groups.

Lotun said he wanted to job-share the role because he could not commit the necessary time, as a disabled father of a young family, to be a full-time MP.

He said there was significant support for job-sharing MPs within the Labour party, as well as the public positions already taken by the Greens and Liberal Democrats.

In Basingstoke, the disabled Green party activist Clare Phipps was hoping to stand with fellow party member Sarah Cope, but they were told their nomination was invalid.

The constituency’s acting returning officer, Karen Brimacombe, said: “One nomination paper containing two names was rejected as it wasn’t valid under the Representation of the People Act rules.

“As acting returning officer, I have no discretion over the application of these rules.”

But Phipps and Cope insist that there are no laws or rules preventing joint candidature.

Neither Phipps nor Cope would be able to serve as a full-time MP. Cope is the main carer for two young children, and Phipps has an impairment that prevents her working full-time.

Phipps, who job-shares a position on the Green party executive, said: “It’s time our government reflected the people it is representing. Allowing job-share MPs is just one way we can change politics for the better.”

Allowing job-share MPs has been Green party policy since 2012.

Phipps and Cope are also now seeking legal advice.

In a third case, Rachel Ling and Emma Rome were prevented by the acting returning officer in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, from standing as job-sharing independent candidates.

Deborah King, co-founder of Disability Politics UK, said: “These cases show that the issue of job-sharing for MPs will not just go away.

“Over 45 individuals and organisations supported our campaign letter in the Guardian in 2012.

“Since then, more people have supported the campaign and [Labour MP] John McDonnell has introduced a private members’ bill to get job-sharing for MPs introduced.

“We would urge all political parties in the general election to support job-sharing for MPs as a way of getting more disabled people and more carers into politics.

“The House of Commons is not representative of the electorate. That is why it sometimes makes really bad decisions.

“We need a Commons fit for the 21st century and enabling part-time MPs is one way of achieving that goal.”

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman said: “Our view is that electoral law does not allow the nomination of two or more candidates for one constituency seat at a UK parliamentary election.”

She said that section 1(1) of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 refers to each constituency “returning a single member”.

She added: “Any changes in this area would require amendments to primary legislation. This would be a matter for government and, ultimately, parliament.

“We would suggest that any individual who wished to pursue further questions on policy or legislation in this area contact the Cabinet Office, which is the UK government department responsible for UK electoral law.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Aden

Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

More posts from author   …………….’

Severely disabled people face disaster if the Independent Living Fund ends


Original post from The Guardian

‘………………Campaigners say closure of the Independent Living Fund will exacerbate ‘grave and systematic violation’ of disabled people’s rights

People with disabilities protest outside the Department of Work and Pensions, London.

People with disabilities protest outside the Department of Work and Pensions, London.

Photograph: Graham Turner/Guardian

Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself this question: “If you were to have a serious accident that left you with a severe disability, would you want to be shut away, out of sight and out of mind?” This is a scenario no one wants to imagine, but for Linda Burnip, a spokeswoman for the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), it illustrates what is at stake for people with severe disabilities if last-ditch efforts to save a vital benefit fail in the run-up to the election.

Short of a late surge of widespread public outrage and an inconceivable volte-face on the part of the government, one of the most important protections for disabled people, the Independent Living Fund (ILF), will soon cease to exist in England. Despite vigorous campaigning, protests, petitions and legal challenges, the ILF will close in June.

This ringfenced pool of money – introduced almost 30 years ago to help around 18,000 of the most severely disabled people live independently in their own homes and communities – should never have been a target for government cuts. It is an essential benefit is often used to supplement other support. By paying for full-time home care packages, for example, people can work or participate in the kinds of everyday activities the rest of us take for granted.

The culling of the ILF is one of the most regressive, inexplicable and indefensible actions taken under the coalition’s austerity programme (and let’s face it there’s no shortage of competition), adding to a raft of reforms and cuts that have already disproportionately affected disabled people, and in particular those with severe impairments.

As Burnip puts it: “The closure of the ILF in England will exacerbate the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s rights to live independently in the community.”

Over the years, the ILF has represented much more than vital financial support as a route to independence for individuals with severe disabilities, including thousands with learning disabilities. It has been a potent symbol of progressive shifts in how society views disability and disabled people. Its loss, as one campaigner told me, “is like 30 years of campaigning and progress have been stripped away in one go”. And, just in case anyone out there is assuming Labour would reverse the coalition’s decision, think again. Despite pleas from campaigners, Labour has refused to halt the closure if elected.

This month, disability rights activists are stepping up efforts to highlight what the loss of ILF will mean. They will be protesting at Labour’s policy launch in Birmingham at the weekend, and are calling on the government to agree to a UN rapporteur visiting the UK to investigate policies that have an impact on disabled people.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are making their own arrangements to safeguard funds for severely disabled people. The Green party has announced that reinstating the benefit will be one of its top election campaign priorities.

A Green party spokeswoman described its scrapping as “shortsighted [and] yet another onslaught on the rights and benefits of the disabled”.

The government has repeatedly denied that the abolition of ILF in England is a cut, saying it is transferring millions of pounds to local authorities “to ensure disabled people get the targeted support they need”. But with cash-strapped councils teetering on the brink of financial meltdown and redrawing the eligibility criteria for disabled people applying for additional support, disability campaigners are right to fear that there is no guarantee that their needs, other than the most basic, will be met.

Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to defend something on principle. This is one of those occasions. If we stand back and say nothing while something so critical to protecting the dignity and rights of disabled people disappears, we are as much to blame as the government for the consequences.  …………………………’