Monday, 13 February 2012

Worcester Park Ward By-election: George Dow - Green Party

Ahead of the Worcester Park Ward council by-election on Thursday 16th February, the Worcester Park Blog profiles the candidates and their views and policies on key issues affecting the local area.

The Green Party - George Dow                                         

George Dow has lived in Wallington for over 30 years with his wife and family, works in management training and is a trustee of a national environmental charity.

Over the years he has been active in the community in many areas.He was the Green Party candidate for Carshalton & Wallington in the 2010 General Election and also stood in the Local Council Election.

He is currently part of the core team in establishing the local Transition Town initiative – ‘Sutton in Transition’ – and playing an active role in the Sustainable Hackbridge community development project.

In 2008 he participated in the Green Guardian's ‘Green Household Award’, winning in the borough and
runner-up in the South West London regional awards.

Supporting local shops and businesses
The local economy is a cornerstone of Green party philosophy. Some of our policies would need action at national level, for example we would like to abolish the uniform business rate and give local councils the power to set business rates to encourage community-friendly businesses.

But a combination of carrot and stick approaches at local level can support community businesses: reducing parking charges for local shopping centres, taxing parking spaces at more distant centres like Sutton would encourage people to shop local. We should examine ways in which the council can encourage local businesses to collectively publicise themselves, perhaps via local loyalty schemes which have worked well elsewhere.

The council could and should be looking to provide affordable workspaces locally so that people do not have to leave their locality to set up in business.

Crime & Policing

Green Party crime and community safety strategy is based on the view that prevention is always better than cure.  We believe that people who are well-educated and well-housed, who have jobs, who are supported by good health and social services and who are living in well-kept neighbourhoods are best placed to build strong and inclusive communities that deter crime and anti-social behaviour.

We support the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams and recruitment of community support officers to provide a distinct visible presence on the streets which help people feel safer and deter people from committing crime.

We think that PCSOs should be given the power to issue fines for anti-social behaviour such as dog fouling and littering.

Public spaces should be well maintained with good street lighting and people-friendly street design.

We believe in dealing swiftly with vandalism, litter and illegal dumping to make sure that streets and open spaces are kept. Those serving community service orders should be drafted into anti-graffiti and litter teams.

Where prevention fails, we believe the police should act swiftly to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour. They are more likely to do this if they are based locally and know and understand their communities.

For Greens, education is about ensuring everyone is given the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to fully engage with and contribute to the society in which they live, in an inclusive education system.

We believe education must be about more than just academic knowledge or simple achievement - children must also, for example, learn practical life skills and social awareness. All too often, schools focus too heavily on exams and tests at a cost of ensuring all pupils receive a well-rounded education that gives them the very best start in life.

Ensuring all teachers and children feel comfortable at school means putting an end to routine discrimination on the basis of religion or belief in school admissions policies, staff recruitment or the daily timetable.

While education should include recognition and celebration of religious diversity and spirituality - and all schools should allow space for prayer - this should not extend to turning down pupils or teachers because they belong to a different religion.

We are opposed to the government’s academies programme which is a form of backdoor privatisation, and the ridiculous ‘choice’ agenda. Nearly all parents simply want a good local school not a bogus ‘choice’ which for all but the wealthiest is no more than Hobson’s choice with local children often being excluded from good local schools by outsiders.
There have of course been such frustrating congestion and delay issues which the area has faced – what with water and gas mains replacement works and the ongoing traffic congestion due to Malden Road being a major route for commuters.

While recognising that utilities work needs to be carried out, I do feel that in order to reduce traffic congestion – whenever possible – the number of car users on the road could be substantially reduced by, for example use of public transport (bus and rail), improved cycle routes and – if it is not possible to do without a car in some cases – then moving towards sharing our car journeys.

Local Health Services

The Green Party totally opposes the government’s health privatisation programme, which will see health being run not by already overstretched GPs but by private contractors and consultants.

The yearly cost of these privatisation schemes is already over £1 billion and we are the ones left to foot the bill. We believe in keeping the health service free – we would abolish prescription charges, re-introduce free eye tests and ensure NHS chiropody is widely available. We want to end phony patient choice: for most of us patient choice is much less important than getting good treatment at our local hospital or health centre – which is often, for many, the only practical choice.

We will fight for a fair deal for those needing health care by opposing cuts, closures and privatisation and by demanding a full programme of locally accessible services. In particular, we campaign for the principle of a free NHS by implementing in England and Wales the scheme that provides free social care to the elderly in Scotland.

We support a comprehensive network of local surgeries, health centres and clinics to relieve pressure on acute services, and the concept of 24 hour access to local out-patient healthcare.
We will also fight to restore free dental care and provide everyone with the choice of an NHS dentist.

Council Tax and Service Cuts
Protecting public services is a key priority for Greens. We believe in a properly funded system of public services to ensure a good quality of life for all, not just with regard to our social services but also in our built environment. These cost money, and need to be paid for. However it’s undeniable that for much of the past decade levels of Council Tax rose way above inflation.

The prime responsibility for this really lies with central government who claimed to have given local authorities generous annual increases, but in reality many of these increases were not enough to keep up with additional demands which central government has either directly or indirectly imposed on local authorities.

Remember that most of the cost of local services comes from central government grants not from the locally-raised council tax, but when the government support is reduced, perhaps for political reasons, a disproportionate burden falls on local tax-payers.

Green policy would remove the ability of central government use the grant levels for its own political purposes. We would use an independent commission, including representatives from all levels of government, to decide what increases were necessary in order to ensure local government was properly funded - taking into account any new responsibilities placed upon it.

15 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Axlrocky said...

You lost my vote at 'i live in wallington' got bugger all knowledge of worcester park then

Paul Scully said...

Axlrocky, one of your current LibDem local councillors lives in Wallington as well, just a few hundred yards from the Croydon border. Might explain a few things about the lack of attention from the council to the ward?

Axlrocky said...

couldnt agree more

Jeff said...

Although the by-election is over everybody who drives should closely scrutinise the Green Party candidate's views on cars under the 'Traffic' heading. He clearly does not respect the democratic choice of the vast majority of British people who want the convenience and safety of personal transport. He wants us to leave our cars at home (or preferrably not own one) and rely on buses and bicycles. The only time car ownership is permissable is when the car is 'shared' by several passengers in the unlikely event they are all going to the same place.

Make no mistake - the Green Party does not respect the democratic choice of the majority on this all-important issue which explains why in this election they received a humiliating 46 votes  and in other elections they consistantly get even less votes than Nick Griffin's BNP.

DT said...

If you look at the candidates prospectus, he doesn't mention compulsion!  He just makes sensible suggestions, reducing the number of cars on the road benefits everyone including car users.  The issue really is that it costs about the same as public transport, but with much higher convenience.

It's a shame that Boris has wasted so much money on his vanity Boris Bus project and not put that money into keeping fares down or even reducing them.

Jeff said...

DT - you've missed the point. 'Reducing the number of cars on the road' as you put it means somehow preventing many people from using their cars. And people don't want to be prevented from using their cars = hence only 46 votes. If after 30 years of campaigning the Green Party can only manage 46 votes you 'd think they would get the message. 

DT said...

Jeff - I think it is you that has a very narrow definition of reduce, there are other and better methods of reducing the number of cars on the roads than compulsion.  The Green party I'm sure would go for encouragement by making Public Transport cheaper.  Most people are motivated by cost so making it cheaper to travel by Public Transport and the number of cars will decrease.

For example two of my fellow workers used to drive to work, on gaining their 'Freedom passes' they switched to public transport, they were encouraged by the zero cost.

Also the number of votes a party gets in our First Past the post system doesn't indicate the level of support a party has, a good number of the Lib Dem votes will have been anything but Tory votes, it isn't until a party has critical mass and stands a chance of winning that its number of votes indicate the anything like the size of its support.

Left of WP said...

Jeff, you seem to have a Jeremy Clarkson sized chip on your shoulder. The fact is, as much as car travel may be individually desirable, there is simply not enough road space in WP for everyone who lives here to park several cars on the roads and drive everywhere at peak times without causing major traffic jams.  Unfortunately for you, all major political parties now pretty much realise that reducing peak time car use is the only realistic and cost effective way  to deal with cutting congestion and reducing road accidents in urban areas ( I won’t mention climate change as I suspect you are in denial). What are your alternatives? Perhaps make it illegal to cross the road so as not to inconvenience drivers, or maybe bulldoze half of WP and turn it into a 4 lane motorway for the benefit of people travelling through it to somewhere more important? I don’t really understand why some car drivers stupidly object to the efforts to encourage (note not compel !) others not to drive as it actually benefits them by freeing up the road. You should be grateful to everyone who currently walks, cycles or uses public transport because good luck trying to get anywhere fast by car if they all suddenly decided to drive.

Jeff said...

DT - I agree with you about making public transport cheaper. Although it's not the right time at the moment, because of the mayhem caused to our finances by gangster bankers, I think that everybody in the UK should have a Freedom Pass for free bus, tube and local train travel. But I'm not confident it would see a noticeable reduction in car use, my wife and I only use ours on average about once a month and I don't think we're untypical - if we want to go shopping in Kingston it's take the car every time due to door to door convenience and freedom from lugging shopping around. Well worth paying the extra - specially if you're paying to maintain a car anyway.

I'm afraid that Public Transport remains what marketing people call a 'distress purchase' - you only use it if you've no other alternative ie travelling to work in central London.

Where the Green Party goes wrong is trying to help the environment by going against our love affair with the car instead of accepting it's here to stay and advocating serious steps towards electric (or other more environmentally friendly) fuels and smaller cars: the Car Tax payable when buying a new car should encourage cars that take up less road space (even two-seaters - hey why not, most cars on the road only have 2 or less people in them).

Jeff said...

Left of WP - I'm sorry to note you think anybody who disagrees with you is stupid (9th line of your 25 Feb message) but there is a very simple answer to the problem of traffic congestion in Worcester Park that has been discussed many, many times on this Blog - I refer to the Worcester Park By-Pass scheme first mooted in the 1930s. This involves a route running from the Lower Morden roundabout, between the cemeteries, over the railway by the ramp (already built for that purpose) at the bottom of Green Lane and then parallel with the railway in Manor Park to the junction of South Lane with Malden Road.

You say that unfortunately for me all major parties now realise that peak time car use must be reduced. I give you my personal guarantee that this will not happen for the very good reason that, unlike the Green Party, they don't want to end up getting 1.9% of the vote in the next election.

Could you satisfy my curiosity on one point? You say in your last message that I am in denial about climate change. How on earth could you know my views on that subject seeing that I have never posted on the matter? Do these flashes of paranormal knowledge come in dreams or do you read them in tea leaves? I hope for your sake they don't come via voices in your head.

Since the Industrial Revolution the amount of oxygen in the air we breathe is believed to have dropped from about 20% to 14%, even lower in some industrial areas and it is continuing to drop. At around 9% saturation human beings begin to experience major health problems. So don't tell me what my views are on climate change. 

DT said...

Jeff: Re your reply to 'Left of WP'.  Firstly your suggestion of reinstating the WP bypass scheme.

1) Have you considered the Lower Morden Roundabout runs at beyong capacity in the Rush Hours?
2) Would any Political Party want to commit sucide by announcing 5 years of planning blight on that corridor?
3) Would it have a positive or negative effect? And that is unknown as every by pass built has had an effect completely different to the one planned. Except they always increase the amount of traffic in an area.

Next your assertion that 02 levels have dropped from 20.9% to around 14%, do you have a source for that?  It would imply a change in Oxygen of around 60,000 ppmv where as CO2 levels have only risen by around 40ppmv, where has all the oxygen gone, has it been sold to the Russians, I demand to know.

Actually, most sources give the sea level values of Oxygen to be around 20.9%, yes stand by a truck's exhaust and it would be a bit lower, lie down in a field of grass in bright sunlight and it would be a bit higher, but in both cases you would need reasonably sensitive instruments to measure it.

Jeff said...

O.K., DT, so you have just 'proved' with your point 3 that Kingston would be far less congested with traffic if they hadn't built the Kingston By Pass in the 1930s. I don't think so myself and continue to believe that Worcester Park needs a by pass whatever the route.

You 'demand to know' my source regarding the decline in oxygen levels caused by the burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. One such source is the article in The Guardian on 13 August 2008 by Peter Tatchell (Google   "Peter Tatchell" oxygen and its the first reference to appear). Let's hope he's wrong but we better be careful or 'Left of WP' will accuse us of being in denial. 

DT said...

 I suggest you take a look at the article


In this article Tatchell contends that:

"Compared to prehistoric times, the level of oxygen in the
earth’s atmosphere has declined by over a third and in polluted cities
the decline may be more than 50%. This change in the makeup of the air
we breathe has potentially serious implications for our health. Indeed,
it could ultimately threaten the survival of human life on earth,
according to Roddy Newman, who is drafting a new book, The Oxygen

Now I’m no atmospheric scientist but Tatchell’s claims aren’t wholly consistent with what we know
about atmospheric oxygen levels over time. We do seem to be at the
tail end of a blip in oxygen levels but there is no indication that we
are witnessing a sudden decline in available oxygen. Of course I have
very little, if any, understanding of the complex process by which
atmospheric oxygen levels fluctuate and the impact of human activity on
them. So, as an uneducated layman, I can only assess the validity of
Tatchells claims by the evidence he cites. Sadly he doesn’t cite any.
Just fallacious appeals to authority. First off his entire article
seems to be based on the work of Roddy Newman, a name with a limited google footprint
and no apparent link with the earth sciences. In fact Mr Newman,
uniquely for an author, has no discernible google record. Likewise a
search for “The Oxygen Crisis” reveals no book by that name, only theories on the impact of high, much higher than today, oxygen levels on viability.

Tatchell then cobbles together unrelated observations on forest
cover, phytoplankton and oceanic deadzones (caused by localised nutrient
concentrations) in support of his hypothesis despite having no
understanding of any of these. Not content with throwing together
unrelated observations he then cites a scientist, Robert Berner,
in support of his theory claiming that oxygen levels were higher 10,000
years ago. I cannot find any evidence that Berner supports this.

After a brief factual interlude stating that oxygen levels were
higher when gigantic dinosauria roamed the earth citing credible
acadmics he then claims that these same academics support claims that
oxygen levels are 15% or lower in densely populated cities! An
astonishing claim not supported by any evidence from Tatchell. I wonder
if he is getting confused with pollution causing lower levels of oxygen
in water surrounding cities?"

As a former scientist when you have Politicians wading into a debate uttering such utter ill informed claptrap, it does everyone a diservice.

yes in prehistoric times o2 went from zero to a peak of around 30%, but then plants suffered with the pollution they had caused (o2) and the c02 depletion caused by plants and acid rain, and levels dropped to around 15% to slowly rise again.

Jeff said...

Phew, D.T., what a relief, we can all breathe a little easier. But it seems strange that someone in the public eye like Tatchell, and with some sort of journalistic reputation to maintain, should make such a bold statement with hardly any sources to substantiate what he writes. Perhaps he was just hard pressed for something to fill his column with and didn't want the truth to stand in the way of a sensational idea.  

DT said...

 Jeff, even for a Politician Peter Thatchell has had a loose grasp on facts, so much so the Michael Foot almost kicked him out of the Labour Party, when standing for Bermondsey in 1981.  Though Bob Mellish's homophobic campaign may have had some part in that.  He is now I believe a member of your favourite party the Greens.

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