News Archive 2008

14th December 2008

Have a compassionate Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a time of peace and goodwill to all men but I would widen that to include all living, sentient beings. And to make Christmas a time of goodwill for all, I would suggest the following steps.

• Never give animals as presents as thousands of abandoned pets are destroyed each year.

• Only purchase cruelty-free cosmetics and toiletries that contain no animal ingredients and have not been tested on animals.

• Do not buy or wear real fur; watch out for fur trim on gloves, coats and boots as it could be real rabbit, fox, cat or dog fur. Always check on the label that the fur is fake.

• Give the turkey a miss, there are plenty of delicious vegetarian and vegan alternatives and, sadly, the turkey industry is a very cruel industry. And if you do have turkey, make sure it is organic/free range.

• If you make a donation to a health or medical research charity, make sure the one you give to does not conduct medical experiments.

These steps would help make it a more compassionate Christmas for all.

6th December 2008

Greens march for action on Climate Change

(Left to Right) Mark Dawes, Jean Lambert MEP, Ashley Gunstock

Members of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party marched from the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square to Parliament to call for action on climate change last Saturday, December 6th. In Parliament Square there was a rally with a number of speakers including Green MEP Caroline Lucas. The march was organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change and was supported by the Green Party; it was attended by thousands of people.

There is now a scientific consensus that climate change is happening and it is the result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and the farming of animals for meat and dairy products. In fact, it is happening at a faster rate than previously thought. Unless action is taken now, we will experience extreme weather, food shortages, mass extinction of species and escalating wars over resources.

The Green Party is calling for

• Legally binding UK targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10% each year towards a goal of 90% reduction by 2030.

• Personal carbon allowances so that we all have a direct incentive to cut carbon use.

• An end to airport and road expansion coupled with huge investment in public transport.

• A “Green New Deal” creating thousands of jobs in energy conservation and an across the board program of renewable energy installations and material reuse.

“The Green Party is the only political party with the policies to seriously tackle climate change” said Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party Co-ordinator Mark Dawes, “The policies we are advocating will lead to a society that is healthier and happier with better public transport and stronger local communities” he added.

1st December 2008

Greens campaign in Highams Park

Chris Olende (left) and candidate Daniel Perrett

The Green campaign for the Highams Park and Hale End Ward By-Election continues with candidate Daniel Perrett finding his opposition to the proposed Tesco resonating with voters despite lack of coverage in the local media.

“One of the biggest issues in the By-Election is the proposed new Tesco that the Greens oppose as it will put independent shops out of business, increase traffic causing more congestion and pollution and lead to unsafe streets” said Daniel.

“If elected I will be a strong, independent, Green voice for Highams Park. One that will fight for free insulation, free school meals, safer streets and a living wage” he added.

20th November 2008

Greens oppose proposed Tesco

The Green Party is opposed to a new Tesco being built in Highams Park. After their earlier proposal was rejected, Tesco have submitted plans for an even bigger store that will be detrimental to Highams Park as it will put independent shops out of business, increase traffic causing more congestion and pollution and lead to unsafe streets.

Tesco now controls 30% of the grocery market in the UK and in 2007, Tesco announced over £2.5 billion in profits. But this “success” is at the expense of farmers, workers, local shops and the environment and it results in shoppers having less choice as the result is no alternative to the large supermarket chains.

The Greens have a different vision for Highams Park; one that has flourishing local, independent shops providing a genuine choice and with a real community spirit. We must have local, national and European policies that promote local economies which are not vulnerable to the whims of large companies.

18th October 2008

Green Fair in Wanstead

The Green Fair organised by the Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party is in
United Reform Church Hall, Wanstead. (Junction of Grosvenor Road with Nightingale Lane, off Wanstead High Street, E11 2HD.)

Saturday October 18th, 11am to 3pm

· Wide range of locally handmade goods: cards, jewellery, photos, scarves, bags, beauty products and more.

· Buy your Xmas gifts early!

· Information from local Green groups

· Refreshments

Admission: 30p – children free

4th October 2008

Greens oppose vivisection

October 4th was World Animal Day, a day when animal life was celebrated and for the awareness of the suffering of animals. One of the major causes of suffering to animals is vivisection, the testing on animals for medical research. Home Office statistics, revealed for 2007, showed an appalling rise in animal experimentation in 2007 with just over 3.2 million experiments on animals taking place in British Laboratories. The only experiments counted are those that have the potential “to cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm”. This was the sixth yearly increase in succession and the highest figures since 1991.

Before coming to power, Labour said it was committed to the reduction and eventual elimination of animal experiments and to establish a Royal Commission to investigate whether animal experiments are necessary and/or justified. Labour broke their promise on setting up a Royal Commission and as clearly shown from the figures, failed in their commitment to reduce animal experiments too.

But vivisection is not necessary as the results from vivisection are not accurate because of the vast differences of non-human-animals and humans anatomically, physiologically and pathologically. There are now more accurate ways of performing medical research that does not involve animals including using human cells and tissues and computer modeling. For this reason, the Green Party opposes vivisection but unfortunately, the other three major parties still support vivisection.

18th August 2008

Local activist stands to be first Green Party Leader

Ashley Gunstock

Ashley Gunstock, a Leading Spokesperson for The Green Party in Waltham Forest & Redbridge, has been nominated as one of just two candidates who will be contesting the election to decide who will be the first ever leader of The Green Party of England & Wales.

Now in his twentieth year as a Green Party activist, Ashley has continually promoted the fundamental values of the Party and worked hard to help these to evolve with the continual changes that affect our society. This has enabled him to more easily express to all, regardless of their original political persuasion, the need to embrace the Green vision for the future.

Such long-term thinking has ensured that his vote – as the Green Party candidate for Parliament in Leyton and Wanstead, for the GLA in Havering & Redbridge and for Redbridge Council in the ward of Wanstead – has risen by 50% in the area. In view of this he has already been re-selected to stand for the Greens in Leyton & Wanstead at the next General Election.

Ashley is a committee member of: Fairtrade Redbridge, about to receive its accreditation; LA21 and FoE groups, with whom he has influenced borough recycling and planning improvements and peace, anti-war & anti-fascist movements, seeking Green Party endorsement.

Lately he was instrumental in ensuring that the Council, TfL and The Corporation of London implemented much needed road traffic safety measures (especially for the elderly and school children) and is at present involved in the ‘Tube re-zoning’ campaign that he established to start making travel on the London Underground more affordable.

Ashley is a professional Producer, Director & actor and was an original cast member of The Bill, having appeared in various television programmes & films and toured the UK three times in theatrical productions. His work as a teacher and qualified Football Association coach, in a variety of schools and clubs, attunes him to what is happening with today’s youth.

All in all, Ashley has a good grasp of what is happening in the society of today.

3rd August 2008

Boycott Olympic Opening Ceremony

On Friday August 8th, the Olympic Games in China will begin with the Opening Ceremony. When China was awarded the games in 2001, they made a number of promises including the promotion of human rights. Sadly, promises have been broken and human rights in China are arguably worse as there is a crackdown on dissent.

Since the invasion of Tibet began in 1949, the Chinese occupation has resulted in the death of over one million Tibetans, the destruction of over 6,000 monasteries, nunneries and temples, and the imprisonment and torture of thousands of Tibetans. Since April this year, in the run up to the Olympic Games, thousands of people have been imprisoned, religious restrictions have intensified and peaceful protest has been brutally crushed in Tibet.

The organisation of the Olympic Games lies more than ever in the hands of multinationals through their sponsorship. They expect from the Opening Ceremony a return on their investment with a huge television audience to see their advertisements and develop their logos. Globally there is a campaign for people to boycott the Opening Ceremony at home by not watching it on TV; we would urge everyone to join in and send a message to China about human rights and Tibet.

27th July 2008

Greens commend Council motion

The Greens commend Waltham Forest Council for supporting the motion that “Waltham Forest Council has a responsibility to act in an ethically and socially conscientious manner in its business practices and activities“ at last Thursday’s council meeting. The motion got cross party support and we would like to thank Cllr John Macklin for taking up this issue and proposing the motion.

Waltham Forest Council has invested in the arms trade that causes so much death and destruction and in companies that operate in Burma that has the effect of supporting the brutal military dictatorship there. This motion represents the first step in changing this policy so that instead the council investments will be a force for positive change in the world. We hope the Council will continue this path.

14th July 2008

Green comment on Food Crisis

The increasing cost of food is affecting us all and if we are to solve the problem, we need to tackle the causes not the symptoms.

The main causes of the crisis is the excessive consumption of meat and dairy, famines (often caused by the effects of man-made climate change) and by the production of bio fuels and it is these causes that only the Greens have the policies to tackle.

We need to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy and encourage people to change their diets accordingly. We need to tackle climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions dramatically as the Greens have been calling for years. We need to stop seeing bio fuels as a solution; it is not, growing food to eat is a more important use of agricultural land.

Of course, the increase in the price of fuel has exacerbated the problem causing a further increase in the price of food. If we moved to more organic, locally produced food then there would be less need for oil based pesticides and fertilizers and less transportation required both of which would lessen the impact of an increase in the price of fuel.

26th June 2008

Greens condemn council policy on community events

Waltham Forest council has announced huge increases in the fees for community groups to attend council-run events such as the Green Fair and Car Free Day. This increase is opposed by the Green Party as it will stop community groups from being involved and lead to events being for the council rather than for the community they are supposed to serve.

As well the hefty increase in fees for groups to attend events, the council has changed its policy so that the £100 charge for commercial stalls also applies to political parties. Previously political parties were charged the same as community groups.

At a time when many people feel that politics is becoming more divorced from people’s everyday lives and concerns, Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party believes that our involvement in community events like the Green Fair and Car-Free Day is an important way of interacting with the public, publicising our views and being exposed to public opinion.

These charges will change the nature of local events – they will no longer be community events. This will also have an impact on local democracy by narrowing the opportunities for local debate – perhaps this is part of the council’s intentions?

20th May 2008

Boycott the Great British Circus - again!

Sadly, the so called Great British Circus is returning to Redbridge with the usual exploitation of animals. If you have any concern about animal welfare, I hope you will join us in boycotting the circus. To find out more about what goes on at circuses that (ab)use animals, you can check out the website

The Great British Circus have been giving out posters and vouchers to local shops and businesses in the area to promote their event.

I am sure that businesses who display the posters do not know that they are promoting the exploitation of animals. If you are concerned about animal welfare and see a poster in a local shop, please let the owner know that animal circuses cause suffering to animals and suggest that they remove the poster and vouchers so that they can help the animals.

19th - 25th May 2008

National Vegetarian Week

National Vegetarian Week is being held this year from May 19th – 25th. The aim of the week is to raise awareness of vegetarian food and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle. A lot of people become vegetarian to reduce cruelty to animals (which, of course, it does), however, there are very good environmental reasons too.

According to a UN report, 18% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that are the cause of climate change come from the meat and dairy industry; that compares with a total of 16% from all transport including aviation. One of the biggest steps people can take to reduce their personal greenhouse gas emissions and help save the planet, is to go vegetarian or vegan, or at the very least eat less meat and dairy. I hope National Vegetarian Week can help inspire people to make that positive change to their diets.

16th April 2008

See the Green Party Political Broadcast

Watch our London election broadcast, and vote Green on May 1

13th April 2008

Green Candidates support the Compassionate Charter

Both Ashley Gunstock, the Green Party’s candidate for Havering and Redbridge, and Aled Fisher, the Green Party’s candidate for North East London, have given support for the Compassionate Charter produced by the animal rights group Animal Aid.

The Charter promotes eight practical and achievable goals, which will benefit animals, people and the planet. They are: purchasing only cruelty-free cleaning products and toiletries; banning circuses with animals from council land; banning pets as prizes; promoting and subsidising spaying and neutering programmes; stopping the sale of foie gras and veal; speaking out against fur; adopting only the humane, non-lethal management of pigeons and other animals and birds; and making their towns a plastic bag-free zone.

It is a fundamental belief of the Green Party that animals have the right to live free from suffering and harm caused by human exploitation and believe that this right must be properly protected in law. The Green Party opposes all forms of factory farming and the fur trade, campaigns for an immediate ban on all sports that involve cruelty to animals and advocate the ending of animal experimentation.

“The Green Party strongly supports animal rights” said Aled Fisher, “I believe these principles should not only be adopted by councils but also by the GLA” added Ashley Gunstock.

6th April 2008

Greens condemn new school's lack of playing fields

The Greens are dismayed at the lack of school playing fields at the new Frederick Bremer School that is being built in Waltham Forest. This new “state of the art” school is being built to amalgamate Warwick School and Aveling Park School and yet has been designed and built with no playing fields.

The problem of child obesity is well known and the Government wants all children to have more time of school sport but when a school has few on-site facilities, at least 30 minutes of the allotted time is lost in travelling to different venues, attempting to increase the amount of school sport as Gordon Brown proposes will be almost impossible for schools with no on-site facilities. Whilst this maybe an inherited problem in old schools, Frederick Bremer School is a brand new purpose built school. It is an irony that the school is in one of the Olympic boroughs!

The new school is being built using the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), a system that is known to be inefficient, overall costing far more than public finance. It is also the case with PFI schemes that money comes first, over other considerations like the service provided - or may be even playing fields!

There was not even a small Astroturf field outside in the plans. It is possible that one could be included if pressure is put on the school to do so. Whilst it would be no substitute for playing fields, it would represent an improvement on the current situation.

“That a new school has been designed and built without playing fields is a disgrace” said Aled Fisher, Green Party candidate for North East London in the forthcoming GLA elections, who is a student who helped draft the education section of the Green Party manifesto. “Along with healthy food, we need playing fields in schools if we are to overcome the obesity epidemic” he added.

30th March 2008

Green Candidate Urges Voters To Beat Far Right

Aled Fisher, the Green Party’s candidate for North East London, has urged residents in Waltham Forest to make sure they are registered to vote in time for the London elections on 1st May to prevent the election of far right parties.

“Its vital that everyone who can register does so and then votes in the election to defeat the threat to our communities from far right parties,” he said. “At the last election, the BNP came close to getting a seat on the London Assembly and I am very concerned that they don’t succeed this time. That would be a disaster for community relations across London.”

15th March 2008

Greens march against the war

Green Party Member Chris Olende at the demonstration

Members of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party joined the Stop the War march in Central London to protest at the continuing war in Iraq. The march marked the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion.  The Green Party are the only main political party that have consistently opposed the in Iraq.

Chris Olende is one of our most active members who always tries to get to demos so was keen to join the thousands in Trafalgar Sq to protest about the continued war in Iraq.

11th March 2008

Save Sharks!

The dramatic decline of the shark population in our oceans may seem far removed from Waltham Forest and Redbridge but it could have repercussions for us even here. The oceans produce half the oxygen in the atmosphere that we need to breathe and sharks are an important part of the ocean ecosystem that does so. Without them, that could change.

Recent studies show there has been a 90% decline in the numbers of sharks of such species of Great Whites, Tigers, Bulls and Hammerheads. The reason for this decline is over fishing mainly for shark fins used in shark fin soup. It is an extremely cruel industry where fins are cut off the sharks sometimes whilst the shark is still alive and then often thrown back in the sea where the shark will die a painful death.

We would urge that people do not order shark fin soup in restaurants and if you do see it on the menu, complain to the restaurant management and suggest that they should never serve it. You can also sign the petition at www.sharktrust.org/petition .

2nd February 2008

Sign our petition for cheaper tube fares

Ashley Gunstock, the Green Party GLA candidate for Havering & Redbridge, is at present campaigning on an initiative that is gaining momentum, a good deal of publicity and local and regional interest.

Ashley was approached by a resident, with whom he is working on another ongoing issue, about whether or not he could do something about getting Wanstead, Snaresbrook & Redbridge Central Line Tube stations being re-designated into Zone 3.

After further investigation Ashley found that, although on the Underground system they are mapped as being in Zone 4, Wanstead, Snaresbrook & Redbridge stations are, in fact, geographically in Zone 3. Furthermore it turns out that other tube stations that have Zone 3 status, eg. Northfields, are further from central London than the three stations in question.

In view of this Ashley confronted Mayor Ken Livingstone - at a People's Question Time at Redbridge Town Hall - and asked him if, in the spirit of his Fares Fair initiative of the 1980s, he would be prepared to look into the possible re-zoning of the three stations that are situated in the borough of Redbridge. The Mayor in turn requested that Ashley contact Roger Evans - Transport Committee Chairperson for the GLA and his Conservative constituency opponent in the last two and forthcoming GLA elections!

With the help of Green GLA member Jenny Jones, Ashley was put in touch with Mr Evans. During their subsequent meeting at City Hall, Mr Evans agreed to put the matter before the Ken Livingstone provided that Ashley drew up a petition to gauge interest in the issue. Weight has since been added to the argument, as a precedent has recently been set, with the re-designation of Hampstead and Willesden Junction Tube stations from Zone 3 to 2, so there is good reason to be optimistic that Ashley's campaign will be a success.

Ashley has a petition posted on the Number 10 Downing Street site at: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Re-zoning which already has over 150 signatures and that he hopes that you will put you names to, if you have not already done so.

3rd February 2008

Green candidate works to improve local transport

Bill Measure, Green Party candidate in the forthcoming Leyton by-election is due to meet London Overground manager, Mungo Duncan on Tuesday. London Overground took over running of the Barking - Gospel Oak line last November. Mr. Measure, who is Vice-Chair of the Barking - Gospel Oak Line User Group will meet London Overground with Graham Larkbey, Secretary of the User Group. High on their agenda will be a call for extra trains and longer trains to relieve peak hour overcrowding. The ultimate goal remains electrification and resignalling to provide a 15 minute interval service all day.

Bill Measure said, "The Barking - Gospel Oak Line User Group represents one of the most successful rail campaigns in the country. The fact that one of the problems that we are seeking to redress is overcrowding shows how we are victims of our own success;, passenger numbers have soared since services have improved. We have travelled light years since the dark days when the service was totally unreliable, British Rail barely acknowledged our existence and made it pretty clear that they wanted to close the line to passenger traffic. The train operating company now realise that we engage in dialogue with them in a positive way, we have expertise to offer and have no axe to grind other than to seek improvements for the people who use the line."

Bill Measure, who worked for 29 years in the railway industry as a signalbox lad, signalman, traffic controller and administrator, has been involved with the User Group for over twenty years, although his involvement with the line first started 40 years ago when he worked as a signalman at Walthamstow Queens Road.

2nd February 2008

Greens call for boycott of Starbucks

From left to right, Ashley Gunstock, Mark Dawes

Members of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party protested at the opening of the new Starbucks coffee shop in Wanstead and called for people to boycott Starbucks and use local coffee shops. They leafleted local people outside the premises warning of the threat to local, independent coffee shops and cafes. The majority of people supported the campaign not wanting to see Wanstead become another clone town full of multinational chains.

There is a record of the opening of Starbucks leading to the closure of local coffee shops and local people are concerned that this could happen in Wanstead too. Local coffee shop owners also supported the campaign being concerned about the effect on their businesses.

There are other concerns about Starbucks too:

· Starbucks is a major player in the global coffee industry that results in the impoverishment of thousands of workers in the developing world.

· Starbucks pays lip service to Fair Trade when genuine commitment could lift coffee producers out of poverty.

· Starbucks domination and unethical business practices, such as "clustering" that results in a Starbucks monopoly, has resulted in the closure of numerous small coffee shops.

· Starbucks treat their workers poorly. The staff are paid just above the minimum wage and are subject to excessive working hours and unpaid overtime.

"Wanstead is a great place, full of character with a variety of local coffee shops and cafes but this is being threatened by the arrival of chains such as Starbucks" said Havering and Redbridge GLA Green Party candidate Ashley Gunstock. "We will continue to campaign for a boycott of Starbucks and also against the proposed KFC which could also have a further detrimental effect on the High Street" he added.

12th January 2008

Greens call for Cage Free Waltham Forest

There have recently been TV programs by celebrity chefs such as Hugh
Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver highlighting the treatment of chickens. What they have shown is the horrific conditions in which a majority of chickens bred for meat and eggs are kept. Chickens are treated like machines on a production line rather than the sentient animals they are. Chickens are crammed into cages or sheds with no natural light. Broiler chickens are grown too quickly so their bodies are in constant pain with a bed of concrete laid with urine and faeces soaked sawdust. Battery hens and factory farm chickens endure immense suffering and it is about time this suffering is stopped.

The Green Party is calling for Waltham Forest to become "cage free" council. This would commit the council to sourcing cage-free eggs (barn or free-range eggs) and free-range chicken only for all catering provided.

Both the House of Commons and London's City Hall already have a policy of sourcing only free-range eggs in their catering facilities.

By becoming a "cage free" council, Waltham Forest council would be supporting ethical and sustainable farming.

"The Green Party would ban all factory farming" said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party "But this would be a step in the right direction. It is inhumane and unnecessary to keep hens in battery cages and factory farm chickens. A "cage free" policy would allow the council to spend its budget in a way that supports and encourages ethical and sustainable farming" he added.

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