Sunday, 26 April 2009

Women By Name Day, Sun 3rd May

I've been busy organising a Green Party 'Women By Name' day in Brighton, which will take place next Sunday from 10am 'till 5pm at Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton. The event is for women only.

We had a similar day in November, which was both inspiring and productive, with several women-centric policies being produced, as well as the day giving us the opportunity to share our experiences as women within the Green Party.

Next Sunday we will again have that opportunity, as well as deciding on the next policies to take forward to conference. I am going to talk about childcare provision, for instance.

We have two great speakers lined up, too: Sue England is going to speak about women and the recession, and Ruth Mason is going to tell us about the work of the Survivors' Network. We're also going to be given some training about how to chair meetings - essential for women who want to take a more active role in their local party.

I hope as many of you as possible will attend next Sunday - I look forward to meeting you in Brighton! And for those who want to make a weekend of it, you are very much welcome to take part in the 'Action Saturday' the day before (Saturday 2nd May). Brighton and Hove Greens will be delivering Euro leaflets - essential work towards getting Caroline Lucas re-elected as MEP.

Brighton Greens can provide accomodation as long as they have advance notice - let me know if you needs this sorting out: (07950 118 998)

Looking forward to seeing you beside the sea next Sunday!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Gee...that's NICE.

We were delighted to hear that the electric car company, NICE, have resumed trading as the London sales arm of AIXAM-MEGA Ltd. NICE, who had some of their vehicles at last year’s ‘Green Motoring Pavilion’ at the British Motor Show, went into administration in November. Where was their bailout? We asked at the time. So much for the Government rescuing the ailing car industry. Here was a company who were trying to solve the problems we have with cars and the pollution they create, rather than burying their heads in the sand, like some (most) manufacturers we could mention.

So it’s good news that they’re trading again. Electric cars certainly face a tough challenge when it comes to gaining credibility, but there are signs that things are starting to go in the right direction.

Think of the furore over the G-Wiz. With their limited range and limited speed, they seemed only an option for a few people (or perhaps that should be one or two relatively slim people – their size being a perceived problem too). But the average speed of traffic in London is 9 miles per hour. Do we really need a car that goes 120 mph? Surely that’s just like putting a shotgun in the hands of a sugar-drunk toddler?

Then the motoring journos started harping on about safety. ‘You’d be safer crouching in a wheelbarrow!’ one screeched like an over-zealous health and safety inspector. I looked at the figures and found that there have been NO serious accidents with G-Wizes. A bit of spin to scare people off, methinks… New ideas are so scary, after all.

I do have a problem though with the city exec with the two private regged Range Rovers, tootling into the city in his/her G-Wiz but using his/her gas guzzlers at all other times. ‘Look at me, I’m down with the kids,’ he/she seems to be saying. ‘I am so Green it hurts. Ouch.’

No mate, stop deluding yourself. You probably have solar panels (because your neighbours can see them) but no loft insulation (because they can’t). Why not take the tube into the city, or – whisper it – the bus? Or would that mean mixing with the hoi polloi, and possibly catching/smelling something nasty? Best to keep yourself cut off in your hermetically-sealed (and oh-so-fashionable) bubble.

It’s time that so-called ‘Green’ solutions were available to everyone, not just the rich few who can afford these sparkling new technologies. I don’t buy the ‘the rich need to buy these things, the price will come down, it will be available to all’ argument. Why should the less wealthy – that’s most of us – have to wait, and rely on the rich to buy these things on a whim? Interesting to see that there are going to be subsidies available for those who are wanting to buy a cleaner car. There are problems with the scheme but that’s no reason to dismiss it out of hand. Let’s see what the uptake is and the outcome – we may be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

My G20 experience

picture: EoSToday I have a letter in the Ham and High about my experience at the G20 demo:

Along with other members of Haringey Green Party I attended the G20 protest on Wednesday 1st April. Realising that we were about to be penned in by police on Princes Street two of us tried to leave the area.

However a line of police had formed behind us and one of them pushed me, forcing us to continue into the crowd. It felt as though the action of penning people in was designed to create tension and violence. At one point an arrest led to objects being hurled including glass bottles. There were very young children in the crowd and my colleagues and I were becoming increasingly uneasy.

I have been on numerous demos over the years and have never come across such a bad attitude from the police. It is a human right to be able to protest peacefully.

May I urge everyone not to be put off protesting by this unfortunate episode.

Sarah Cope
Haringey Green Party.

Below my letter is one from Mayor Boris Johnson. In it he states 'Our police did a fine job in allowing peaceful protest, whilst cracking down on violence. There are many unseen and unsung heroes.'

I take it you weren't there Boris? No. Ian Tomlinson would probably disagree with your summary of the demos. Only he won't be able to tell you as he's dead.

I am attending the peaceful demo on Saturday to mark the death of this man. The footage of him being struck with a baton from behind and then pushed to the ground tells quite a different story to the one our Tory mayor would have us believe.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Naughty Mini

I helped get Mini in trouble for breaking the law in their latest ad. Plus our YouGov poll has been picked up in the press!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Car Ad Emissions Figures don't add up

We Are Futureproof, the environmental campaign group I helped set up, have been busy recently working with YouGov. We wrote a survey asking people to look at mocked up car ads, getting them to assess how clearly they could understand the emissions info. One of the ads had the information in the current text format in small font at the bottom of the advert. One had a colour coded format with an arrow to the correct emissions band. The survey was completed by 2007 people, and the results are illuminating:

- Just 3 in 10 people can understand vital information about fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions in the format currently shown on car adverts.

- Four times as many people say they find colour-coded format easier to understand.

The results, which we released today, show that more than half of people correctly identified the efficiency of a fictional new car called ‘Marko’ when the information was shown in a colour-coded chart, compared with less than one third when the information was presented in plain writing (56 per cent vs 31 per cent).

The number of people answering ‘don’t know’ reduced by nearly half for the new label – down from 41 per cent for the plain writing format to just 22 per cent for the colour-coded chart.

When asked which format they preferred, two thirds of people (67 per cent) chose the colour-coded format, four times as many as chose the larger, but less clearly presented plain writing (16 per cent).

It's clear people don't understand what the raw CO2 and fuel economy numbers on car adverts mean, or how different cars compare in terms of 'grams per kilometre', so it's not enough just stating these figures in billboards and magazine adverts.

Instead, the public needs to know how a car compares with others in terms of fuel efficiency and pollution, and our survey shows that a colour-coded scale is much easier to understand.

We believes that the car industry - not just consumers and the environment - would benefit from the introduction of clearer information on fuel economy.

It's not simply a case of small cars being good and big cars being bad. If the format of the efficiency information changed, it would make it much easier for consumers to see that within every class of car, such as family estates, vehicles can have very different running costs.

Other evidence shows that car drivers are keen to reduce their driving costs but confused about the information given. People increasingly cite fuel economy and running costs as an important consideration when choosing a new car. But, in the absence of clear information that is easy to understand, many drivers mistakenly assume that vehicle size is the only major factor determining fuel consumption and don’t understand how the metrics ‘mpg’ and ‘grams per kilometre’ relate to running costs.