Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Supporting and improving our public services

1 comment:
I recently received a letter from the Public and Commercial Services Union asking for my views on public services, I presume because I'm a local election candidate for the Greens in Eastville. Here’s how I replied to the questions they posed:

1.Do you support PCS’s campaign for fair and equal pay?

Yes, fair and equal pay is very important. We must narrow the income gap and build a secure, stable and sustainable society for people, based on strong local economies working together. The lowest paid should pay no income tax at all in my view.

2.Where do you stand on cutting civil and public service jobs?

Cuts in services must be opposed and its very unlikely that cutting large numbers of jobs would have no impact on services at all. ‘Efficiency savings’ as they have been called aren’t ‘efficient’ at all if services are cut.

3.Do you think in the current climate that [Dept for Work and Pensions] office closures should be halted?

With unemployment rising steeply its surely vital that we mobilise available resources to help people find work and training – office closures are very hard to justify therefore.

4.Where do you stand on privatising public services?

I’m very strongly opposed to the privatisation of public services. The Green Party’s ‘Green New Deal’ for spearheading the economic recovery includes significant investment in public services, including social care, housing and transport. The Green Party strongly believes that local provision and access to high quality public services such as schools, libraries, hospitals, nurseries, post offices and public transport are essential to maintain thriving communities and a good quality of life for all.

5.Do you think more tax staff should be employed to collect [lost or non-pursued] taxes, closing the tax gap [and removing tax loopholes]?

Its well worth devoting the staffing needed to pursuing taxes and closing loopholes. This pays for itself and raises money for spending on public services.

6.Do you support an extension of the ban [on the employment of racist, fascist, far-right group members] to other civil and public services [the police and the prison service have a ban already]?

Yes, we must take all effective steps to combat racism, fascism and nazism. Membership of far-right groups is clearly incompatible with non-discriminatory working practices which all civil and public service providers have signed up to.

Recall system for MPs: sign the petition

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I've indicated in previous posts the Green Party's longstanding policy of legislating to put in place a recall system for MPs and Councillors (see here and here). Its natural territory for me to urge you to sign this petition calling for a recall system to be set up asap (read over the message below from petition organisers, the new campaigning group 38 Degrees).

In the wake of the MP expenses scandal, trust in politics and politicians in the UK is collapsing. Political parties may suddenly be falling over themselves to “get tough” with the worst MP expenses offenders, but can we rely on politicians to clean up this mess on their own? At the moment we're stuck with disgraced MPs until the next election, no matter what they have done. We need MPs to answer to us, and that means a new “recall law” to give local people the power to call a fresh vote and sack disgraced MPs. Right now party leaders are debating how far they need to go to regain our trust, and if we act quickly together we can influence this debate and get this new law passed.

Click here to demand a new recall law: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/recall/

We have two weeks before we present our petition for a new recall law to the leaders of all the parties. Please help us to make sure it’s a loud enough call for change. If enough of us take action together, we'll show parliament and the media that real change is needed. The idea for a recall law in the UK has been gaining momentum, with major newspapers and even some MPs weighing in over the last few weeks. The next step is to prove how strongly voters feel - exactly what a large petition will do.

How many other jobs do you know where once you’ve been hired the people who hired you can’t sack you for five years, no matter what you’ve done? In other countries including the USA and Canada, “recall laws” allow voters to call a fresh vote when an elected official has lost their trust. Now we need the same in the UK. Politicians are feeling the heat and know they have to take major steps to regain our trust. Let's seize this opportunity to make MPs more accountable to us, for good.

Click here to make sure MPs really answer to us: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/recall/

Thanks for getting involved
David, Hannah, Warren, Nina and the 38 Degrees team

Local, environmental, online jobs: 4 website community facilitators wanted

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Passing on details of this local, environmental, online job opportunity:

An exciting opportunity to be a website community facilitator.

Do you have an interest in the environment and things that affect your local area?
Would you like to learn more about having your say on online forums?
Do you like to talk with friends about things that are happening in Bristol that affect you?

We are looking for four community facilitators, who will keep an eye on what people are saying on an online discussion forum and promote discussion.

www.askbristol.com is a council website which promotes discussion about issues that affect people living in Bristol, so these views can be passed on to people making the decisions.

Past discussions have included cycling, excessive drinking, the council’s budget, and recycling to name a few. Go to
http://www.youtube.com/bristolcitycouncil to see videos of some of the things we have talked about in the past.

The website currently has a focus on traffic noise pollution, as part of a project to raise awareness, highlight problems and solutions, and encourage people to tell us about quiet areas where they enjoy spending time. Find out more here

What is involved?
You will be employed for two hours per week for six months and paid £8.23 per hour through the City Jobshop. If you are claiming benefits you will need to declare this work so find out in advance if this will affect your benefits payments.

You will need to have access to a computer and internet connection at home, or be able to access the free computers at the library (which can be booked for up to two hours a day on week days) or anywhere else you know of where you can use a computer with internet.

As well as work on the Internet, you will spread the word about the website by chatting to people you know and any groups you are part of, and by distributing leaflets.

You will need some experience of using computers and the Internet to find out information from websites and have experience of using email.

You might also have some experience of social networking sites like myspace, facebook or youtube, and blogs but this is not essential.

You should have an interest in the environment and your local community and a willingness to learn new skills.

You will be asked to keep a log of how you have spent your time and what you have achieved.

You will need to attend one and a half days of training, where you will find out more about what needs to be done and how to do it.
You will need to commit two consecutive hours on one day of the week (Monday to Friday). These hours can be flexible (i.e. not necessarily during the normal 9-5 working day, and not necessarily the same hours every week). Hours will be arranged so that the four facilitators are working on different days. We would also occasionally require a degree of flexibility from you, for example, in being able to attend training sessions.

How will you benefit from being involved?

§ You will receive training about how to be a community facilitator.
§ You will learn new skills and gain experience relating to the Internet and building links in your community. These skills will be useful both personally and in a work environment.
§ You will have the opportunity to earn an extra income from home whilst working around other commitments.
§ If you are currently not in employment and will be seeking work in the future it will be an opportunity to gain confidence and add to your C.V.

Tasks will include:
Promoting discussion on the Viewfinder site (
www.askbristol.com/viewfinder) site.
Moderate comments on viewfinder according to the code of conduct and acceptable use policy. You will be able to refer to a council officer if you are unsure about any content.
Promoting the traffic noise website with existing contacts, and in local area e.g. speaking to friends, community or other groups.
Distributing Ask Bristol publicity cards in their local area and other places you visit.
Going on to other websites/forums to promote the traffic noise website.
Looking out for relevant comments on other sites to say how this relates to noise pollution and directing people back to out site.
Moderation of comments on the quiet map.
Adding your own photos to the quiet map (if you have a digital camera – not essential).
Keeping a log of what you’ve done.
Logging usability issues with the website via the feedback email.
Involvement in evaluation at the end of the project.

If you are interested in being involved, but would like to talk to someone first to find out more, please contact Makala Cheung at Knowle West Media Centre on 0117 3532895

If you would like to apply, please write a letter or email to Makala by Friday 29th May 2009 entitled ‘Community Facilitators’ saying a bit about why you would like to be involved and why you think you would be good at it. Let us know if you are a member of any groups or clubs you are involved in, and of any websites you use regularly. Please include your contact details.

After this we will contact you to let you know if we would like to meet you to talk further about how you are suitable for the role.
Makala Cheung
Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West, Bristol, BS4 1NL