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News Archive 2013

24th December

Cruel gimmick in Ilford

It was disappointing that Ilford Business Improvement District (BID) organised a parade of penguins in Ilford town centre as part of a Christmas event although penguins have no connection to Christmas. It was cruel and exploitative.

Sadly, this gimmick is part of a trend of exploiting animals at Christmas by displaying them in shopping centres and the like – reindeer are often used too – and will cause distress to the animals involved being so far removed from their natural habitat. It was both foolish and callous of Ilford BID to organise this silly and unnecessarily cruel event.

15th December

Compassion at Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a time of peace and goodwill to all people but we would widen that to include all living, sentient beings. Turkeys in particular suffer at Christmas as around 10 million birds are slaughtered each year for Christmas, the vast majority of which (90%) are factory farmed cruelly in windowless sheds with as many as 25,000 other birds. The natural life of turkeys is around 10 years but they are normally slaughtered between 9 and 21 weeks old.

There are plenty of delicious vegetarian and vegan alternatives to turkey but if you do have turkey, it is most compassionate to make sure it is organic/free range.

30th November

Local Greens target Harvey Nichols in National Anti-Fur Demonstration

On Saturday 30th December, Greens from Waltham Forest and Redbridge including Mark Dawes, co-ordinator of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party, joined the annual National Anti-Fur demonstration in London. The demonstration was organised by the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade and was supported by Animal Defenders International.

The British Government has banned fur farming, but still allows fur to be sold in high street shops.

Although it has been illegal to breed and kill animals for fur in this country for over a decade, it is still legal for shops to import and sell fur from other countries. Yet if they were to produce those very same fur items in this country they could be arrested and brought before the courts for animal cruelty.

London in particular remains a major centre of the fur trade, with hundreds of shops throughout the capital selling fur. On Saturday 30th November, a series of demos were held outside the shops and businesses concerned, including some of the most famous names in fashion and retail such as Burberry, Joseph, Dolce and Gabbana and Harrods - the only department store in the UK which still sells fur - which continue to profit from the cruel fur trade. There was particular focus on Harvey Nichols which was fur-free for over a decade but which, under orders from new fashion director Paula Reed, made the backward and cruel step to start selling fur again in September 2013. Miss Reed has now been forced to resign after only a year in the job.

The fur trade involves extreme cruelty to animals, most of which are kept in fur farms where they are imprisoned in tiny, wire cages until they are killed in crude ways such as electrocution or gassing. The animals that are caught in the wild are caught in steel traps that leave the animal in agony for hours or sometimes days. As well as for coats, fur is used for trimmings on coats and gloves, sometimes without the buyer knowing it is real fur.

“The fur trade is a particularly barbaric industry and completely unnecessary as it is only human vanity that keeps it in business” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party, “Whilst the Government has banned fur farming in this country, it still allows fur to be sold in shops; it should ban the sale of fur too”.

“It is very disappointing that Harvey Nichols have gone back to selling fur and I hope people will boycott Harvey Nichols until they go fur free again,” he added.

29th November

Labour inconsistent on the betting industry

Whilst it is good that local Labour councillors in Leytonstone are campaigning against the betting industry and the number of betting shops in the area, one does wonder how genuine their commitment to the issue really is. After all, it was local Labour MP Stella Creasy who campaigned for the interests of the betting industry regarding Walthamstow Stadium, supported by Labour councillors. And it was the last Labour Government that deregulated the betting industry that has caused a lot of the problems we are facing. It would seem that with the local elections next year the current local Labour stance on this issue is based more on opportunism than on genuine principles.

5th November

Greens join Bonfire of the Austerity

Greens including Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party joined the Bonfire of Austerity protest on Bonfire Night. The protesters marched to Westminster Bridge where a bonfire was lit on the bridge in front of the Houses of Parliament where energy bills were burnt as a protest at the high cost of energy and excessive profits of the energy companies, a symptom of this Government’s failed economic policy.

The protest was organised by the People’s Assembly as a protest at the austerity policy of the Government. Austerity does not work and has led to public services cuts and the poor and most vulnerable suffering despite the fact they were not responsible for the financial crash. And economically it does not work either as it has led to people’s income and standard of living declining. The only people benefitting are the rich and powerful – ironically those that caused the financial crash.

“There alternatives to austerity like the Green New Deal where we invest in green technologies we need for the future that will create jobs and wealth” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party. “The suffering this Government has caused for the poorest in society is immoral and unjustified where with a fair level of taxation it could be avoided” he added.

15th September

Greens call for an immediate end to 'farcical' badger cull pilots

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Steve Lambert and Mark Dawes at the Green Party Conference

I am pleased to report that Green Party conference in Brighton voted overwhelmingly in favour of my motion calling for an immediate end to the badger cull pilots.

These trials should have never gone ahead; the cull is unscientific, unethical and will cause great suffering.

One key aim of these pilots was supposed to be to assess the humaneness of free shooting and yet it is clear that the methods being used to assess humaneness are completely inadequate and unscientific.

The Government's Chief Veterinary Officer has just admitted, in response to questions from Humane Society International, that 'there are no definitive criteria for determining humaneness' which undermines the whole project. It's a farcical situation.

The Daily Express picked up on this damning response while at conference and reported it here.

Reports are suggesting the numbers of badgers is well below target, the government should just admit its error and cancel the pilots now.

We understand the devastating effects on farmers of this disease, which is why we are calling for the funds currently being wasted on this fiasco to be instead urgently invested to find a genuine solution.

Caroline Allen - Green Party Animal Spokesperson

8th September

Car Free Day no longer green

Car Free Day – ‘a green themed event’ says the council’s publicity but there was very little sign of this from what I could see last Sunday. There was the cyclists campaign and the local Transition group and that was about it. Otherwise it was crazy golf, street performers, bouncy castles and lots of food stalls.

I think most people attending would not have known it was meant to be Car Free Day; they will have seen community entertainment with no real message except to enjoy themselves – thats fine but please don’t try to dress it up as a green event. Lets be clear – the council has lost the focus on environmental issues that it had a few years ago (Climate Change Strategy, Green Fayres, etc) and will not have helped the ideas behind Car Free Day (doing without our cars for a while, promoting other ways of getting around) with this event.

26th August

Local air pollution monitoring stations under threat of closure

Up to 600 stations in England for the chop in government cost-cutting exercise

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Diana Korchien, Steve Lambert, Robert Greenhall, Rosemary Warrington and Deborah Fink (picture Waltham Forest Guardian).

Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has launched a six-week consultation, due to close on 30 August, proposing a radical overhaul of the local air quality management regime that has been in place for the past 16 years. The proposals are apparently aimed at helping businesses expand by reducing the amount of ‘red tape’ they have to deal with.

But European air pollution limits meant to protect health are being breached in urban areas across the country, with the highest levels in London. According to Defra, the limits for the toxic exhaust gas nitrogen dioxide were exceeded in 40 of the UK's 43 air quality zones in 2010. Despite this sobering fact, Ministers want to remove obligations on local authorities to assess air quality in their areas, resulting in less monitoring. This could lead to the closure of 600 monitoring sites and could save nearly £50m over 10 years, Defra claims.

Last month, Members of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party gathered on the Woodford High Road bridge over the A406 to raise public awareness of soaring pollution levels in the area. The A406 is one of the top 3 worst roads in London, with the stretch between Charlie Brown's and the Waterworks interchange reputedly the most polluted area in Redbridge. This section of the A406 which passes through Waltham Forest ranks highest for four of the five most dangerous air pollutants, which include benzene, nitrogen oxides and particles of unburned carbon. Local air quality is monitored by a box near the steps down to the A406, in nearby Lincoln Road. Under Defra proposals, this box could be permanently removed and with it the potential for gaining crucial scientific information.

Said Rosemary Warrington of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party, ”At a time when air pollution is one of the largest and most widespread of the country’s public health problems, it seems insane to be removing the power from local authorities to measure it scientifically.”

10th August

Greens join March against live exports

Mark Dawes from Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party joined other Greens on the march against the live exports on Saturday August 10th. The march was organised by Compassion in World Farming and had hundreds of people marching from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square.

The aim of the march was to highlight that the live export of farm animals continues – largely hidden from view – and to urge the government to take action to allow UK ports to refuse to accept live exports. The live export trade is cruel and unnecessary yet every year tens of thousands of sheep and calves endure long journeys by road and sea across Europe. After suffering overcrowding in unsuitable vehicles with little or no access to food or water and extremes of heat and cold, they are often killed on arrival at their destination.

The UK government continues to use European legislation as an excuse not to stop live exports yet the UK Farming Minister, David Heath MP has the power to amend legislation and give UK ports the power to refuse live exports. Ultimately, giving local authorities the power to refuse live exports could end the trade.

“The live export trade is cruel and I urge the Government to act to stop it” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party. “If they continue to fail to act they are condemning thousands of animals to unnecessary suffering” he added.

29th July

River of Death

Greens call for action over ‘River of Death’ in which thousands of fish died and blast ‘appalling and cynical greenwash stunt’.

Local people were horrified last week to see thousands of dead fish in the River Lea after rain washed pollution from roads into the river, creating a toxic soup in which fish had no chance of survival.

Grit and dirt from roads along with toxins such as oil and lead were washed in to the Lea, causing dissolved oxygen levels to drop and the river to turn a grey colour. Eels were seen crawling from the river, the fish had no escape and thousands died.

Yet the following weekend organisers of the Open East Festival, including the London Legacy Development Corporation, chose the Lea as a centre piece of the festival; dying it green with Fluoroscein dye to celebrate ‘The River Lea story’ which it says ‘encapsulates how the Olympics has brought new life and vibrancy to the local environment for everyone to enjoy ‘. They state that ‘Prior to the Olympics these waterways suffered very poor water quality, low quality habitat, poor public access and flood risk issues’ and then add that ‘during the planning and construction phase of the park, these waterways were improved in terms of flood risk management, water quality and extensive habitat creation, realising a long term aspiration to turn around the fortunes of this river’. Pity no one told the fish.

Green Party campaigner Caroline Allen said, ‘this celebration was literally greenwash. It beggars belief that organisers should try and highlight the River Lea as some sort of legacy success while it is a dangerous and toxic mess. The stunt was appalling and cynical and has made a lot of local people very angry, people who were deeply dismayed to see the massive loss of aquatic life just a few days before.

Green Party Assembly Member Jenny Jones added ‘I have already been in touch with Boris Johnson, we need a real legacy from these games for London, not this sort of baseless self-congratulation . The Mayor and The London Legacy Development Office must urgently act to improve the state of the Lea River’.

Campaigners are calling for a raft of measured to protect and improve the river. More reedbeds would improve the resilience of the river to these toxic shocks, natural drainage systems are needed to intercept run off from the busiest roads and car parks that drain in to rivers need to create ‘rain gardens’. In emergency situations the use of oxygenations needs to be early and properly targeted.

Caroline added ‘the recent development around the River Lea has put an extra strain on this already stressed environment, we need serious action to turn the Lea back in to a healthy environment for wildlife and for local people to enjoy. We can’t allow it to continue being treated as a dumping ground. I just hope that this misjudged stunt might just help highlight the precarious state of the river’.

22nd July

Royal Baby

Of course everyone would wish for the baby and mother to be healthy but a good gift to the baby would be to allow them to have a choice of their future lifestyle, their career, their religion or their beliefs- all of which will be denied to them whilst they are part of the monarchy.

It really is time to move away from our head of state being decided by birth and to a genuinely democratic system. And if the baby does want to be head of state when they grow up, they should stand for the role in a democratic election, an opportunity that should be open to everyone.

17th July

Green Party Condemns A406 Pollution

A406 particulate pollution levels soar

Waltham Forest and Redbridge both under threat

Members of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party gathered yesterday on the Woodford High Road bridge over the A406 to raise public awareness of soaring pollution levels in the area. The stretch between Charlie Brown's and the Waterworks interchange is reputedly the most polluted area in Redbridge. Local air quality is monitored by a box by the steps down to the A406, in nearby Lincoln Road.

Clean Air in London obtained 1.5 million pieces of data from the Mayor of London, which have revealed the A406 to be one of the top 3 worst roads in London.

And TfL’s own records reveal that the section of the A406 which passes through Waltham Forest ranks highest for four of the five most dangerous air pollutants. These include benzene, nitrogen oxides and particles of unburned carbon, all of which are regularly inhaled by cyclists.

Jenny Jones, Green Party London Assembly member, has set up a website where people can enter their postcode to find pollution levels for the roads around them. See -

Robert Greenall, a keen cyclist and Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party member, said: “I have been cycling in the local area for several years. The wearing of protective masks affords little protection against airborne pollutants.”

Air pollution created by vehicles is linked to strokes, heart and respiratory diseases as well as some cancers and asthma. The two main ways to tackle air pollution are to reduce traffic and clean up our vehicles.

Robert continued: “I’d like to be able to cycle in the local area without being intimidated by motor vehicles and having to breathe in their fumes. More safe cycle routes, fewer cars and stricter control of emissions, please!”

7th July

Andy Murray to be congratulated

It is good that tennis player Andy Murray has taken foie gras off the menu at the hotel he owns. The chef at the hotel, Albert Roux, supported this decision saying he was in total agreement as foie gras inflicts cruelty on animals. They are right as the production of foie gras is a very cruel, force feeding birds to fatten their livers.

It is a pity that the Provender restaurant in Wanstead does not follow this example as they continue to support and sell this cruel product.

1st June

Greens join the protest against the badger cull

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Greens on the march including Mark Dawes and Jean Lambert MEP (on the right).

Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party members including MEP Jean Lambert joined the march against the badger cull on Saturday June 1st. The march included Queen guitarist Brian May who spoke at the rally against the badger cull.

The march was organised by London Against the Cull and had around 2000 people, dressed in black and white and many with badger masks. The event started with at rally at Millbank and then a march to DEFRA , the department responsible for the cull. Brian May also delivered a petition of nearly 250,000 signatures of people opposed to the badger cull.

Despite massive scientific, political and popular opposition, the UK Government’s controversial pilot badger cull is set to begin on 1st June of this year. The reason for the cull given is that badgers are passing TB to dairy cattle but the scientific consensus is that the badger cull will be ineffective is stopping the spread of TB in cattle. The real reason for the spread of TB is factory farming which is so intensive that cattle suffer with a reduced immune system and so are more vulnerable to diseases like TB. The cull will obviously cause suffering to the badgers killed but will also damage the ecosystem of which badgers are a part.

“The Government has caved into pressure from farmers who want action on the issue but the problem is not badgers but the intensive factory farming in the dairy industry” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party. “The cull will cause great suffering for no purpose. Again the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government have failed to understand environmental issues and have put money before the suffering of animals“ he added.

18th May 2013

Greens march to save the NHS

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Mark Dawes and David Hamilton on the march

Members of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party joined the march on Saturday May 18th to defend the NHS in London. The march was organised by the Save our Hospital campaigns across London and London Keep Our NHS Public. The march went from Jubilee Gardens to the Department of Health on Whitehall. It was supported by Trade Unions, MPs as well as the Green Party.

All across London hospitals are under threat from closure and privatisation and there have been local campaigns to save Whipps Cross Hospital in Waltham Forest and King George Hospital in Ilford. Accident and emergency departments, maternity units and in-hospital care are all threatened. The public strongly support the NHS and believe that it should be publicly funded.

“Public services should be public funded with the government providing the funding needed for a health service that gives safe levels of care” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party. “Peoples lives should not be put at risk for a political ideology” he added.

27th April 2013

Local Green joins march for World Day for Animals in Laboratories

Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party joined other Greens to march with hundreds of people in Oxford to mark World Day for Animals in Laboratories. World Day for Animals in Laboratories on April 24th is a UN recognised date to highlight the millions of animals each year who suffer and die behind the walls of laboratories.

The event on Saturday April 27th started with a rally and then a march through the centre of Oxford to the Biomedical Sciences Building in Oxford University where animal testing is carried out and over 150,000 animals suffer and die in experiments every year, far more than any other university. They are among the 115 million animals worldwide that are killed after undergoing often painful and prolonged procedures. The demonstration called for an end to all animal experiments.

The latest Home Office statistics, revealed for 2011 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) over 3.7 million animals were used in experiments in the UK. This included 2,679,763 mice and 271,535 rats as well as cats, dogs, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, monkeys and many others. 50% of all animal experiments carried out in the UK take place in universities; much of it publicly funded.

Vivisection not only causes great suffering to animals but is not necessary as the results from vivisection are inaccurate 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.

Vivisection is also responsible for human suffering as side effects from medical drugs deemed safe because they passed animal tests are responsible for thousands of deaths each year.

“Vivisection causes great suffering to millions of animals” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party “And it unnecessary too as medical research can now be carried out that does not involve testing on animals. If the resources spent on animal testing were spent on medical research that did not involve vivisection, not only would the animals be free from suffering but it is likely that medical research would advance and cures for diseases would be found more quickly” he added.

9th April 2013

Margaret Thatcher

Whilst the death of Mrs Thatcher is sad for her friends and family, it should be remembered that as PM, Mrs Thatcher caused great damage to this country. Industries destroyed and communities pushed into poverty as a minority became very rich at the expense of the majority. There was also the promotion of greed and selfishness as virtues with pronouncements that there is no such thing as society.

And the effects are being felt today as the financial deregulation she supported caused the financial crash used as an excuse for drastic cuts of services for the most vulnerable. Selling of council houses causing a lack of housing and increased rents, privatisation of utilities causing increased bills and a more unequal country where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

6th April 2013

Local Green joins demonstration against the Grand National

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Demonstration outside Channel 4, Mark Dawes is on the far left.

Mark Dawes from Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party joined the demonstration outside Channel 4 against the Grand National as the race took place on Saturday April 6th. Channel 4 support the Grand National by broadcasting the race.

The demonstration was organised by the animal rights organisation Animal Aid and the names of the 23 horses that have died in the Grand National since 1989 were read out. Whilst, fortunately, there were no fatalities in this year’s race, out of the 93 runners entered into the three races on the Grand National course this year, two horses died, several fell, and a large number pulled up – some possibly injured. The course, therefore, still presents a potentially lethal challenge to horses. The Grand National is still five times more lethal to horses than other jump races with the last two decades being the most dangerous in the race’s history.

“It is time this cruel race was ended” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party, “The suffering of animals should not be a source of entertainment”.

“Jockey Katie Walsh’s comments that they are only horses and it would be worse if jockey’s lost their lives completely misses the point. Jockeys make the choice to compete in the Grand National, the horses do not – they are the innocent victims” he added.

18th March 2013

Local shops close after Tesco opens

Sadly, it should come as no surprise that Budgens and Poppies bakery have closed since the Tesco megastore opened in Highams Park. The opening of new supermarkets invariably leads to the closure of smaller local shops. This leads to less choice for people, as supermarkets monopolise shopping: there are now over ten Tesco stores in Waltham Forest alone.

There are also problems with the way supermarkets treat farmers as they abuse their powerful position to pressure farmers to sell their produce at unfair prices, and they have a negative effect on the environment, encouraging more car use and waste of food. The recent horse meat scandal with food chains all over Europe showed how far supermarkets’ business model is away from locally produced, sustainable food.

The Green Party said in the past when the Tesco was being proposed that the choice for Highams Park was whether it is an area with a thriving range of shops on the streets or just one large Tesco. And unfortunately it looks as if it will be the latter.

18th February 2013

Greens comment on horse meat scandal

The scandal of horse meat being substituted for beef goes beyond mislabelling or alleged criminal activity but shows how the whole food system is broken. The big food companies and supermarkets, in seeking to provide cheap food, have cut their costs to the absolute minimum. This drive to “cheap at all costs” food has led to a long chain of suppliers across Europe, so that supermarkets do not even know what is in the products they sell! This has also led to cruel factory farming, which not only causes suffering to animals but has health implications for the consumer too.

There has also been a lack regulation as the Government ideologically sees regulation as “red tape” hindering profits for the wealthy rather for the protection of people from unscrupulous companies seeking profit before the welfare of people.

We need to move urgently towards a more local food system where there is a visible, tangible connection between consumers and food producers. We also need better education on cooking in schools so people learn how to cook healthy, nutritious and cheap meals without resorting to processed ready meals, where the problems have occurred. And if people really want to avoid horse meat, the safest way is to avoid meat altogether!

3rd January 2013

Take Foie Gras off the menu

From this year foie gras will no longer be served in the House of Lords, a move backed by a number of peers because of the cruelty involved in its production. This follows agriculture minister David Heath urging consumers to avoid foie gras due to the inhumane production methods. Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese and is so cruel that production of foie gras has been banned in the UK.

It is very disappointing that the Provender restaurant in Wanstead still serves foie gras and is supporting this cruel industry. A good New Year’s resolution for Provender would be to show compassion and take this cruel product off its menu.

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