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WALTHAM FOREST AND REDBRIDGE Green Party


Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party Manifesto


1) FOOD

The majority of us want food that is nutritious, fairly priced and produced in a way that is not harmful to the environment or cruel to animals. Unfortunately that is not what we are getting.

The supermarkets have a near monopoly over the supply of food and use their power to put their own profits before producing good food. Supermarkets force farmers and suppliers to produce food that looks good rather than being of good quality, as a result 30% of perfectly good food can be wasted and it is the farmers that pay. The supermarkets squeeze farmers so they can barely make a living.

Animal welfare standards are poor to produce cheaper food, with animals treated as products rather than sentient beings. Chemicals and pesticides are used that damage our health and pollute the water supply.

Food is flown from all over the world rather than produced locally and then is transported around the country from packaging centre to distribution centre, the transportation creates greenhouse gases adding to climate change, one of the biggest problems facing the planet. The Labour Government is pro GM food when it has not even been proven to be safe for our health or the environment. It will benefit no one except the big businesses behind it.

The food from supermarkets is not even cheap; where there are local greengrocers and butchers, their prices are cheaper for the majority of products and are of better quality too. Unfortunately, supermarkets have also driven many out many small independent shops.

It does not have to be this way.


2) TRANSPORT


3) PEACE AND SECURITY

Summer 2005 will be remembered for the terrorist bombings in Central London, an appalling act of violence that the Green Party condemns unreservedly. It was another example of where violence was used to try to solve problems rather than seeking non-violent solutions.

The Green Party opposed the war in Iraq from the very start but we believe that the terrorist bomb and the assassin's bullet have no place in political change leading to a more humane and just world. Acts of terrorism, as we have seen, kill and maim all sections of the community and at the same time threaten to destabilise community relations.

The Greens believe justice is important to peace, however, injustices, perceived or real, never justify murderous attacks on innocent people. It is very important though, that the injustices that cause people to see violence as the only solution are addressed.

Everyone would like to live free from the fear of violence in a peaceful society but for this to be achieved will take a determined effort. Violence takes many forms - from the physical damage of bombs and beatings to the blood and guts of video games. People are concerned by violent crime and there have been incidents locally of teenagers carrying and threatening people with knives. Violence is part of our culture, from the way history is taught in schools to the glorification of violence in TV and films.

Bodies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have identified the need to promote a culture of peace. Promoting a culture of peace will help reduce violence in all it's forms and help to convince people that the use of direct violence as a means to achieve ends is uncivilized and counter productive.

The Greens believe that education is the key to long-term peace. Children must be taught non-violent means of resolving conflicts and that violence does not work, it leads to more violence. Children should be taught history that includes successful non-violent campaigns rather than military history that glamorises war and to examine how British history has impacted upon the history of other countries and cultures.

The Greens will create a new cabinet position in the council to promote peace in the borough. The peace portfolio would be a practical position promoting peace education in schools, working to stop local conflicts and tackling domestic violence.

The Greens oppose Britain's nuclear weapons and believe that their use or threatened use is immoral. In having a so-called nuclear deterrent, we are making the use of nuclear weapons more likely as well as costing us billions that could be spent on health and education. Britain's current generation of nuclear weapons have come to the end of their lives and are due to be replaced. The Green Party calls upon our government to lead the world by example and to announce that Britain is abandoning its nuclear programme, both military and civil.


4) ANIMAL RIGHTS

Despite our reputation as a nation of animal lovers, the treatment of animals in our society is poor. Animals can suffer feel pain as we do and yet animals are treated like objects in industrial factory farms, tortured and poisoned in cruel tests and even killed for fun. Animals should be treated with respect. The Green Party is the only major party that seriously addresses animal rights.

The Greens would end all factory farming. The treatment of animals in factory farms is disgraceful as the quest for money is given priority over the decent treatment of animals. The Greens would ban the intensive farming of broiler (meat) chickens, who are kept enclosed and overfed so that their legs cannot bear their weight. They spend their days on the floor of their overcrowded barns, which are soaked with urine, and suffer acid burns to their hocks. The Greens would also ban the cruel practice of live animal exports.

The Greens will uphold the EU ban on battery hens from 2012 and oppose the so-called 'enriched' battery cages which give battery chickens very little extra space.

The Greens oppose the fur industry and oppose fur being used for clothing.

The Greens would end vivisection. Vivisection is not only morally wrong but is unscientific too as different species react in completely different ways to drugs and treatments.

The Greens would ban all bloodsports and badger culling. Killing animals for fun is just plain wrong.

The Greens would ban the use of animals in circuses and abolish zoos. Animals deserve their dignity not to be humiliated for our amusement.

The Greens would provide a vegeterian and vegan option for meals in schools, hospitals and prisons and would encourage everyone to eat less meat. Eating less meat would help the environment and help the poor in developing countries.


5) MOBILE PHONE MASTS AND TETRA

There is a huge demand for mobile phones that is growing and to cater for this demand a growing number of mobile phone masts will be needed. However, the effect on people's health is unknown and there is evidence that they cause cancer/leukemia with children being particularly at risk from the radiation. There is also evidence that mobile phone masts cause epilepsy, depression, headaches and migraines.

The Greens believe that the local community should be consulted about the siting of mobile phone masts and that mobile phone masts should only be erected at sites agreed with the local community. Sites should be chosen away from residential areas and schools.

There should be more education on the risks of using mobile phones with suggested maximum daily time for use that would varying depending on the age of the user (less for children). People should be encouraged to use land lines where possible with financial incentives to do so.

TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is the new police communication system using microwave radiation and electromagnetic pulsing. However, there are serious health concerns about TETRA. There is evidence that TETRA affects brain function causing neurological problems like headaches, memory loss and sleeping disorders. There is also evidence that TETRA causes brain tumours and it is believed that the death of one police officer was due to TETRA. According to one scientist, TETRA is likely to cause "more civilian deaths than all the world's terrorist organizations put together".The Greens would ban TETRA; there are safer and cheaper alternatives.


6) PUBLIC SERVICES

The Greens believe that public services should of high quality and reject the privatisation of public services that leads to profit been put before the needs of the people. Public services should be available to all not just the wealthy.


7) LOCAL DEMOCRACY

A healthy society is one where people have the power and control over their lives; this is achieved by an inclusive local democracy where everyone feels involved and part of the community.


8) CRIME

It is important that if we are to solve the problem of crime, we address the roots of crime not just the symptoms and that we seek justice for the victims not just revenge. The roots of crime are such factors as poverty, lack of a decent education, lack of a decent job and the prospect of one, inequality, lack of a good environment, lack of hope for the future etc. It is ironic that it has been Right Wing parties (Conservatives and now Labour) that are seen as the parties of Law and Order when it is their policies that cause crime and disorder in society by seeking short term profits for the wealthy, reducing equality, increasing poverty, stripping down the social service system and increasing unemployment. It could be that we are still paying for the Thatcherite years that did not believe in society and promoted greed and selfishness above co-operation and community.

We also need to make sure that prison rehabilitates and educates people with skills to enable them to become a part of society when leaving prison rather than just going back to crime. Whilst crime has been on the increase, the coverage of crime in the media has increased far more dramatically that has led to a fear of crime that is disproportionate to the actual level of crime. This fear leads to a lowering in the quality of life for everyone.

America has a policy of longer, tougher sentences but despite locking up an increasingly large percentage of their population (one of the largest percentages in the world), they have a much higher level of crime than we do in the UK. If we are to cut down levels of crime and have a safer society (that we all want), we need to work towards a fairer society with a decent education for all, a more equal society where no one lives in poverty, a good local environment, where everyone has the prospect of decent job and has hope for the future.


9) WASTE & RECYCLING

It is irresponsible to throw things away and expect other people to clear up afterwards but that is exactly what we are doing to the earth by putting our rubbish in land fills or burning our rubbish in polluting incinerators. To live sustainably for the future we must treat the earth with respect. The Greens believe there should be a Zero Waste strategy to minimise waste and maximise recycling, reducing the unnecessary use of materials and conserving natural resources. Many towns and cities have adopted this strategy, as has New Zealand, so it can be achieved.


10) GREEN SPACES

We needs green spaces where we can be with and experience nature for a good quality of life. But animals, plants, diversity and eco-systems have a value outside of human requirements and should be preserved for their own sake.


11) ARTS IN WALTHAM FOREST

The arts can express profound ideas, the arts can make social criticism, the arts can perplex or infuriate but above all the arts should enhance our enjoyment of life or there is little point in them. The Green Party is very much in favour of life being enjoyable and so we see the arts as being one of the central pivots in policies for a more humane and reflective world.

In a multi-cultural society, such as Waltham Forest, the arts have an important role in helping people to assert their own cultural identity and to understand the cultural identity of others. Waltham Forest Council have spent millions of pounds of council tax money on an attempt to create a retail centre in Walthamstow Town Centre. Not only does this encourage mindless consumerism, but also it will not be successful in the face of competition from established retail centres, such as Ilford, or more ambitious proposed retail centres, such as Stratford City.

The arts potentially present far more of a niche market to benefit Waltham Forest than creating another "clone-town" in Walthamstow. The council have failed to recognise the potential offered by the number of musicians, filmmakers and artists resident in the borough, together with the excellent public transport links to Walthamstow.

The Green Party support proposals for an arts centre in Walthamstow, as part of a strategy to make Waltham Forest the centre for the arts and culture in northeast and east London. We need a centre to exhibit the visual arts and to present the performance arts. Despite a number of talented and adventurous amateur theatrical companies in the borough, the only theatre we have is the dilapidated theatre in Lloyd Park. The British film industry started in Walthamstow in the early 20th century; Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone - and yet Waltham Forest is the only borough in London without a cinema!

We would like to see the council entering into a partnership with the national lottery and the film industry to establish a cinema museum, which would also show films on circuit, in order to recognise the role of this borough in the development of the cinema. We advocate support of Vestry House Museum and the William Morris Gallery through adequate funds and full staffing. We also support other initiatives, such as the Pump House Museum, and the 491 Gallery in Leytonstone. We want to see continued and increased support for local festivals, such as the Leytonstone Festival and Walthamstow Festival, which help to reflect the many cultures that make our borough such an exciting place to live.

We are pleased to see the growth in the number of pubs presenting live music in the borough and concerts being presented in places of worship and other locations around the borough. Walthamstow Assembly Hall has some of the finest acoustics in the country; national orchestras have rehearsed and recorded there. Our own local orchestra, the Forest Philharmonic, present an annual series of high quality concerts at the Assembly Hall. It is outrageous to even contemplate the selling off of assets, such as Walthamstow Assembly Hall and Chingford Assembly Hall.

Life in Waltham Forest should be stimulating and fun. The arts, in their various forms, contribute to this. The Green Party will support the arts in all their forms across the borough.


12) EDUCATION

Greens have long held that learning is a life-long experience. We recognise that people develop differently and at different times to each other throughout their lives.We therefore believe that more time should be spent on a persons physical & social skills and potential during their early years. Pupils should not be pressured into learning merely how to pass examinations, but be regularly profiled and occasionally tested on knowledge acquired.

There should be no selection procedures or entrance examinations for the schools of so called 'choice'. This divides communities and the movement of children, often in cars, across towns adds to unnecessary congestion and pollution. Children should go to the schools that are within walking distance of their homes.

Faith schools divide communities; schools should give children the chance to mix with children from different religions and cultures, this will promote harmony rather than division.

Schools should be community centres for a wide range of learning and remain open and be available for use by the community after the school day has finished and during school holidays.


13) HEALTH

A preventative, rather than just a curative, emphasis on health should be encouraged ie healthier diets and a reduction of pesticide use, pollution and work related stress. However although the Government is spending much more on the NHS these days, it is not getting the desired results. The constant flow of new initiatives and re-organisations, such as Foundation hospitals and internal markets, is not producing what people want and is seriously affecting staff morale. The NHS should be left alone to make the most of any increased resources.

Health and Social Services are beginning to work well together but PCTs must get a better grip of their finances. They should also learn to respond better to local needs and concerns; the Public & Patient Involvement Forums in every Primary Care Trust must be strengthened so they can highlight and publicise problems for the local community and provide more democratic input. The new Whipps Cross Hospital should be a leading example of green practice.


14) PLANNING

Green planning not only takes into consideration the impact that development will have on the environment. As well as recognising the need for open green spaces we believe that the long-term impact on a local community, of any scheme that is to be erected, must be taken into account.

Greens believe that a built environment should serve and not hinder a local community. It should provide residents, especially key workers - of the health, emergency service and educational sectors - who make up the infrastructure of a locality, with adequate & affordable housing and amenities, accessibility within all services and shops. These should be no more than a mile from people's homes and all well serviced by efficient public transport.

Any further development should be in keeping with the character and architecture of the area for which it is proposed and not the ad hoc proposals of get rich quick property developers.


Published and promoted by Mark Dawes on behalf of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party, both at 53 Scarborough Road, London E11 4AL