At the moment the ballot is taking place to select Colchester Green Party's 2015 General Election candidate and I am on the ballot. My profile statement is below:
I have lived in Colchester for twenty-four years during which time I have taught History at Colchester VI Form College. I was born in Leicester and grew up in rural Leicestershire before studying History at Lancaster University. My dad worked as a linesman for the electricity board and my mum was a boot and shoe machinist. I was the first in my family to go to university and I know full well what education means in terms of increased opportunities. Before joining the teaching profession I worked for the NHS in the Finance Department of Leicester Royal Infirmary. I am currently the NUT (National Union of Teachers) representative at the College and have worked as a volunteer for the Outhouse East charity in Colchester for fifteen years and have, in the past, sat on the management board of the organisation.
Me and the Green Party
I have been a member of the Green Party for over two years and joined because I believe it to be the only major political party in the UK to be genuinely committed to protecting our countryside and planet as well as fighting for social justice and the common good. The other parties like to talk the talk on these issues but their willingness to turn words into actions is minimal. Currently our countryside is under unprecedented attack from overdevelopment and the Coalition's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has created a laissez faire approach to planning, with much of the protection of the countryside removed and a 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' (which basically means a presumption in favour of development since the term sustainable is not defined and is open to a myriad of different interpretations).
Four years of austerity have created a cost of living crisis in the UK with an economy rife with high utility bills, transport fare hikes, zero-hours contracts and a minimum wage that is not a living wage. Meanwhile voters are losing faith with the political establishment and who can blame them when they are so out of touch with everyday concerns such as paying the bills and jobs.
What I Would Do For Colchester
1) Housing and Planning
Colchester is sufferering from overdevelopment and our green spaces and surrounding countryside are under attack. We need a green approach to development which is responsive to local needs and puts the provision of attractive affordable housing above the building of huge, ugly boxes sold at inflated prices and built in inappropriate places. Once the countryside is lost, it is lost forever. I would fully oppose Tendring Council's plans for 3000 houses on countryside east of Greenstead near the A120. I would seek to retain the town’s historic character, preserve greenbelt areas and end urban sprawl. Housing should be affordable and built on brownfield, not greenfield sites, with fewer huge developments. I would defend the countryside around Colchester from unwanted developments while also supporting the Green Party's national drive for rent caps and the abolition of the bedroom tax.
2) Jobs and Bills.
I know that many people are too busy trying to make ends meet than to worry about political hot air and ..isms. That is why I would fight to get real rent controls in Colchester and across the UK, campaign against rising fuel bills and strive to create a local green economy which would jobs in renewable energy and conservation work. The Green Party nationally is committed to raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020 and as an MP I would fully support this.
I am totally opposed to university tuition fees. I will never ever under any circumstances vote to keep or increase them. I would use my position as Green MP to campaign for their abolition. I am well aware that the behaviour of the Lib Dem leadership after the 2010 election may cause people to doubt what I, a would-be MP, is promising here. However tuition fees would have put me off going to university and I want to make this completely clear; if I were to break the promise I have made above then I would no longer be fit to be your MP.
4) Health and Wellbeing
Centralised funding should be diverted to community health centres offering self-help solutions for preventing illness and promoting health. The health benefits of natural environments are well documented. I would campaign to ensure that all children and young people in Colchester have access to outdoor play and learning. I would use my position as MP to hilight the campaign against TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which threatens to make it more difficult to resist creeping NHS privatisation.
In Colchester we have an ongoing traffic congestion problem. We need a green approach to transport with the new bus station made bigger and better and further investment in order to enable public transport to be an attractive alternative to car use rather than a headache. Many people in Colchester use trains to commute. I would campaign against rail fare price hikes that disadvantage commuters. The Green Party supports 20mph default speed limits and programmes to encourage car sharing, walking and cycling.
6) Community Safety
We must ensure that Colchester remains a safe place to live and work and that crime rates decline. We need an approach to crime reduction which focuses on the social causes of crime. I would oppose the proliferation of nightclubs in areas of town where they become linked to crime. I would propose revoking the licences of any venues linked to incidents of violent crime. I would also fully support the Green Party's national policy of introducing a guaranteed Citizens' Income in order to reduce petty crime caused by poverty. I would also use my position as an MP to campaign for increased police funding so that the resources are in place to tackle burglary, car crime and drug dealing.
All Colchester Borough Council-owned facilities would be audited and given energy reduction targets. We would generate locally sourced, affordable renewable energy to
tackle fuel poverty. I would strive to make it easier for residents across town to obtain replacement green bins and garden waste bags.
Is a Green vote a wasted vote?
No it isn't. Only the Green Party puts concern for ecology and the natural world at the heart of what we do and will oppose fracking. Only the Green Party wish to abolish the tuition fees which are loading huge debts onto the shoulders of Essex University students. Only the Green Party will fight to ensure that the minimum wage is a living wage and that the NHS is saved from the creeping privatisation which all of the grey parties have allowed.
Above all, if you want the grey parties to listen or stop going back on their promises then you have to stop voting for them and vote for real change. Its the only power you have over them and the only way they'll listen. Not voting at all simply ensures that they still win.
And the EU?
Only the Green Party would stay in Europe but fight to radically change the EU for the better. The Lib Dems and Labour would keep it exactly as it is with no change. The Conservatives will promise to reform it while actually doing nothing. UKIP would leave the EU and then saddle us with trade treaties with the USA which would hand American corporations control of our economy. Only the Green Party would fight to make Britain's voice louder in Europe and the EU more responsive to concerns about wage levels and the environment.