Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Harrogate Climate March - last sunday

Terrible weather didn't stop this intrepid band from walking from the Friends' Meeting House via the Internationl Centre to the Cenotaph to show solidarity with the millions around the world who want urgent action on  CO2 emissions.  Placards read 'No to Fracking' and 'climate jobs don't cost the earth'...but the wind and rain peeled off some of these exposing previous campaign messages...and of course they are all connected by the common factor of corporate domination of our small blue planet.  We shouted:   What do we want?  Climate Action.  When do we want it? .... NOW!

Friday, August 14, 2015

The cat came back!

Arthur the cat disappeared -  again (he vanished for a week before) - for a night and a day.   Last night there were blue flashing lights outside.  A fire engine was at the school next door.   We remembered an alarm had been sounding (which we had thought was a car alarm). About 6 yellow-clad firemen with huge torches were searching the school.  I met them as they came out and said I wonder if my cat has got in somehow as he's disappeared.  I went with the woman with the keys back through the silent school to the part where a door had apparently been left open, calling 'Arthur!'    ...and in the last classroom a plaintive meow was heard...!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Great Green Group - election - May 8th Harrogate

Some of the wonderful activists of Harrogate and District Green Party - they shouldn't be looking so happy at this time of day, but they just can't help it!  Amazing team!

A midsummer walk around Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

The signal box and crossing at Knaresborough station...very sweet!

Boats, and the River Nidd reflecting the Victorian viaduct at dusk

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Corrina's new PAYF (pay as you feel) cafe - Harrogate

Congratulations to Corrina and friends on the opening of  the cafe yesterday. What a great idea!  Corrina and friends have set up this wonderful volunteer-run cafe in Mayfield Grove where you can get delicious meals and drinks, pay what you can afford, and, if you like, you can pay for someone in need to get a meal or drink later (the post-it notes represent meals and drinks for later).  It builds on Corrina's Homeless and Vulnerable Project which provides a meal every sunday for those in need in the town. This is a really fantastic example of sharing and cooperation in the community, and it uses food in danger of going to waste as well - Brilliant!!  Note the light shades made of empty food cans - and that town cryer again! ...just felt it was somewhat ironic for the ex Tory MP to cut the ribbon when his party has widened the gap between rich and poor so that projects like this are so necessary!

Boroughbridge business

Bill and I enjoyed another trip to Boroughbridge recently: great soup, my name writ large, delightful deli, and much much more.  We love small towns with character.  We must protect them.

More small business and other types in Knaresborough!

I love diversity.  Here's a selection of Knaresborough characters: the Town Cryer - wearing my hat, me wearing my new special (different size) boots from the excellent shoe shop on the High Street, Gigi in style in Starbeck, and Green Dragon Crafts stall - wearing a big smile... love it!  What a change from the faceless big brands.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Small business - lifeblood of the community

These are the types of local business we admire and support

A flurry of Hustings

Harrogate Chamber
Bilton WMC

Never a dull moment these days.  All the five candidates have slugged it out in a succession of well organised hustings.  As well as those illustrated, we sparred at a Joint Knaresborough Chamber with Churches Together event at King James' and the Harrogate Over-50s Forum yesterday.  The conduct of all has been well mannered and mainly non confrontational, but clear water is opening up on Corporate power, TTIP, NHS sell-off and the Austerity programme:  One (Green) v Four (greys)

Friday, April 17, 2015


What is it with cats at about 8pm this time of year?  Whilst out leafleting and chatting with people I've noticed they are all queueing up to go inside at this time.  Don't they want to stay out at night?  Maybe its too cold still...or maybe last night they wanted to watch the Leaders debate? .. They know that the Greens need to win if other species are to be protected from the ravages of corporate greed.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Register to vote by April 20th

Today Bill and I sallied forth into Knaresborough Market Place to encourage people to vote...  wondered where they all were: then realised they had all squashed into the pubs to watch the Grand National!  An outsider won....but the Greens are on target to win in Harrogate and Knaresborough

EU - need for reform

Just found this pic of me speaking to the European Greens (a few years ago - was it in Malmo?) about the need for a reformed EU...

Excitement at the Hustings

So far in the campaign to win Harrogate and Karesborough for the Greens, the hustings have been good natured and rather quiet affairs. That seemed to be the way last Thursday's event at the Cedar Court Hotel was going, until the subject of TTIP emerged. The Greens are confident that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership proposals are bad – bad for business, bad for Britain and particularly bad for the NHS. My assertion to this effect invoked a flat denial from the Lib Dem candidate, and the cry of 'liar' from someone in the audience.

So, what's the story?

In February this year, BBC Scotland revealed a leak from the EU negotiations, purporting to show that NHS services are exempt from the TTIP negotiations, currently being negotiated in great secrecy in Brussels. Now, one person's leak is often another mischievous plant, deliberately designed to misinform. This latter option is, I think, the situation here.

The leaked document has, in reality, been in the public domain since May 2014. So this is, in the words of War on Want, less of a news story and more of a spin operation. It confirms that the position of the NHS in the TTIP negotiations is worse than I described, the government knows this, and is deliberately trying to misinform the public to allay concerns. The whole rebuttal of the implications of the 'leak' can be seen here

Rather than being branded a liar, I should be applauded as a whistleblower!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Knaresborough High Street - who is it for?

Meeting about trucks unloading in Knaresborough High St last Monday: main issue is the expectation that the town must dance to the tune of huge corporations.  Residents living above shops have to put up with unloading noise very early in mornings.. lack of flexibility on part of mega corps.  Old political parties don't question this power imbalance as they believe we have to keep going along the outdated 'growth for corporations' path (TTIP etc).  Greens question the  underlying paradigm so all our policy  takes us in a very different direction from the old political model..

Monday, March 16, 2015

Leafleting today

Leafleting :   its good exercise, and gives you a chance to take a closer look at everyone's gardens.  The variety in gardening styles is as diverse as the people whose gardens they are.  There are the gravel-only types and the push your way through the bushes types, and everything in between.  Today I saw a large brown rat, and a pond literally bulging with frogspawn...and loads of brand new spring flowers !!  Only one hostile dog behind a letter box.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

3 cheers for the green surge!

Green Party parliamentary candidates for Yorks and the Humber (some of the many) in Leeds 7 Feb.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Comedy Club - Greens get out a bit!

Last night we sloped along to Comedy Club at the lovely community run Frazer Theatre Knaresborough.  The crowd was in the swing when we arrived,  dressed  mainly in black and downing local beers.  We were immediately given a warm welcome to our seats by an unmistakeably Scouse guy: he and his partner had come east for the weekend and had seen this show was on...but they said they had asked locals the way to the Theatre, and noone had heard of it! Could have been the Comedy Club they hadn't heard of as its new to the Frazer....or does this mean that Knaresborough has a kind of double life? 

Anyway - back to the show:  it was excellent with 3 very different acts (Harriet Dyer and Peter Brush  first) - but beyond my wildest dreams in terms of the election campaign. Tom Toal, the MC, after finding that everyone he asked  in the audience worked in  IT, asked who has the most interesting job in the room so I put up my hand.  'Im standing for Parliament for the Greens,' I said.  Oh! he said, so what will you do for this area?  I went Wow - you really want me to say?...Yes he said.  Of course I hadn't prepared a speech, so I waffled something about making everything more friendly and not about money and greed...must have sounded very vague....but the Green theme continued throughout the evening.. with comments like 'I'll get the Green Party to sort you out'...

Tony Burgess , the 3rd act, was ecstatic about Knaresborough ...its like Narnia round here,  he said, even Christmas decorations still up in the market square, comparing it with his native Manchester - where you can't go for a walk in case they nick your legs and leave your torso on bricks.  He said what a diverse audience too...including an aspiring  Green MP....He asked if we had any BNP around here...then said 'NO - you will have sent them away- in a gondola or something!!'

The lovely Scouse couple (having compared notes with my Scouse husband, Bill)  said they will come along to Green Party conference in Liverpool in early March (the venue has had to be changed due to massive demand for places).  Several others commented warmly as well - so it was a fantastic night out in all respects and we shall be going again to Comedy Club!    

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Air quality: message to DEFRA

Dear Mr O’Byrne,  
I wish to respond to Defra’s current consultation “Review of Local Air Quality Management (England) – regulatory and guidance changes”.  Your ‘preferred option’ is one which was condemned by 18,000 respondents to your 2013 consultation. As your impact assessment shows, your proposals could see local authority air quality monitoring slashed by 75% and spending on air quality reporting by 60%.  Local authorities are encouraged to rely on Defra’s air quality monitors but there are on 137 of those across England, compared to over 2,500 air quality monitoring devices run by local authorities.

Without detailed local air quality monitoring, many ‘hotspots’ of air pollution will be missed and local authorities will have no incentive to reduce pollution in those areas.  The National Planning Policy Framework emphasises the importance of taking existing or likely breaches of air quality standards into account when assessing new planning applications.
 The recent Environmental Audit Committee’s Air Quality report calls for stronger measures to protect clean air and public health through the planning system.  Yet without detailed local authority air quality monitoring and reporting, communities and planning authorities will have no way of knowing where standards may or may not be breached.

In many places, air quality monitoring is already insufficient – it needs to be strengthened, not decimated, while air quality reporting requirements must not be watered down.

I am further concerned about the proposal to abolish air quality objectives for four pollutants, two of which happen to be of particular concern in relation to fracking.  I believe that the UK’s Air Quality Objectives must be strengthened, not eroded.  The air quality objective for PM10 is twice as high as that recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for protecting public health while the PM2.5 objective is 2.5 times as high as that recommended by the WHO.

Your consultation claims to encourage local authorities to take more action to reduce PM2.5 emissions, which are especially harmful to human health, but proposes that PM2.5 should not be incorporated into air quality regulations and that local authorities should not have to monitor and report on it.
 Without comprehensive monitoring and reporting, nobody can know what PM
2.5 levels are and whether they are going up or down and whether EU Air Quality Standards will be met.

Air pollution is a significant cause of illness and premature death in the UK and the country is facing infringement procedures for having failed to meet EU air quality standards since 2010.  I therefore urge Defra to withdraw the current proposals and to draw up genuine plans for reducing air pollution, ones which must incorporate the Environmental Audit Committee’s recent recommendations.

Yours sincerely,

shan oakes

Monday, January 5, 2015

Rail campaign Jan 5th

Harrogate station: Greens, RMT and police ensure the public get the
information they need about the dire results of privatisation of public

Ramblers at rest: Welburn Hall lunch break

What a lovely day it was - Jan 4th


Walk with the Ryedale Ramblers on Sunday near Welburn Hall,
Kirkbymoorside, North Yorks. Not many big old trees like this anymore...

TTIP: Transaltlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

This was the first Harrogate Futures Forum event: look up TTIP - it's a
nightmare which is already happening but will be even stronger if this goes
through. It gives yet MORE power to corporations to do what they will