Saturday, 28 November 2009

Edible landscapes - and a Walthamstow update!

I joined my fellow Tree Trust members in planting a number of fruit and nut trees in Priory Park this morning. It's all part of encouraging the council to plant more fruit and nut trees in the borough. The council's tree strategy mentions it's a good idea so the Tree Trust are planning to make this vision a reality. Rowans and sweet chestnuts were amongst the trees planted.

"I'll be back in 18 years for my nuts!" said one resident wit.

Next year some of us in the Sustainable Haringey Network are planning to organise an urban harvest. Fruit and nuts which would either simply be left to rot would be harvested and shared. It just takes a bit of coordination and, hey presto, free food - healthy fare at that!

Organic Lea in Walthamstow have been doing similar in recent years. Harvesting local apples, they've juiced them and shared the juice out in the community. Brilliant!

Speaking of Walthamstow, a little update on my general election candidacy. I was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Walthamstow a year ago, but this week I decided to let someone else take on the role. My focus, along with my fellow Haringey Greens, is obviously on Haringey, and our push to get the first Greens onto the council here.

I hope a suitable replacement candidate can be found and that Waltham Forest and Redbridge Greens can also continue to work at getting some councillors elected next year, too! Exciting times...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Meeting the Seniors

This photo shows my fellow Stroud Green Green Party candidate Anna Bragga deep in conversation with an attendee of the drop-in centre at Abyssinia Court, Weston Park.

We went along today to meet both residents of the 'housing with care' accomodation and to those who attend the daily drop-in sessions. They provide a great community service in that local older people can meet regularly, have dinner and socialise in comfort.

I have to say that one of the groups of people I have most enjoyed meeting on my door-knocking excursions over the last year has been the older residents of the ward. This is partly because, as a history nerd, I love to hear about how the area has changed over the decades. Some people have told me their wartime memories of Stroud Green and beyond, which has fascinated me.

Today we also had the chance to discuss the issue of pensions. The current full state pension for a single pensioner is only £95.25 (figure from April 2009). There's been a massive decline since the link with earnings was broken by the Tory government in 1979. Many pensioners, especially women, don't even get a full state pension.

Private pensions are in crisis too, of course. Some occupational schemes have failed, leaving pensioners who've contributed all their lives with nothing.

The Green solution would be to introduce a Citizen's Pension which would pay single pensioners £165 per week - with no means testing, which is demeaning and requires pensioner to jump through hoops. Independent studies by the National Association of Pension Funds have shown that this could be afforded today within current net expenditure and state pensions. Furthermore, by abolishing the tax relief on private pension contributions, which mainly benefit the more wealthy, we would save money which would then be plowed in to providing a fair Citizen's Pension for all.

It was great meeting the people we met today - and they seemed to enjoy the chat, the cake (thank you, Dunn's the Baker!) and meeting my daughter Clementine, who helped one of the residents make Christmas cards.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Whittington A&E closure outrage

Back in the summer I was blogging about the new polyclinic on Park Road, saying that local GPs were closing and that means longer journeys for sick people.

I've also blogged about the closure of so many of Haringey's hospitals and the fact that we have no A&E.

I'd heard a rumour a few months ago that the Whittington might close, or 'merge' with another hospital. It seemed unbelievable at the time.

Well, I've just got back from a heated 'Defend Haringey's Health Services' meeting, where the proposed closure of the Whittington's Accident and Emergency was the hot topic of the evening after the plans were announced last week.

Already Haringey residents have to travel out of the borough to get to A&E. If they had to go beyond the Whittington, to the Royal Free, that's another bus ride for a lot of people.

Anne Gray, Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Tottenham, put it like this: "Green Lanes is an accident black spot. What's going to happen if you have a traffic accident there and need to be taken to the Royal Free? You're going to die."

It really is as stark as that.

The Government have been planning to close and outsource much of the NHS for years. The fact that they can now cite spending cuts and budget deficits is a handy excuse but not really a legitimate reason.

Tonight we planned a series of actions to protest against this plan. No doubt it will be wrapped up as a positive for patients in some devious way. It is for activists to point out, repeatedly, that this is a cut too far - that lives will be lost. By the time this goes out to 'consultation' it will probably be too late - the decision will be made. Now is the time for action.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Extreme Action Saturday!

Leaflets, strong winds and driving rain don't mix. Any political activist will tell you that. So it was rather an inconvenience that our Action Saturday coincided with extreme weather! A great opportunity for talking with local people also turned into a papier mache experiment. We managed two hours of chat and leafleting and then dragged our wet haul home. Pic above shows me trying to keep it together!

The other picture is how my living room looks right now. I am drying out the leaflets - waste not, want not!

Next month, sunshine please. Or at least not gales and downpours...

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Clementine the Apple Tree

As previously mentioned, my husband Chris won an apple tree at Hornsey Vale Community Centre's 'Apple Day' a couple of weeks ago. He peeled a piece of apple peel measuring 1 metre 73cm. Competitive? No, surely not.

Anyway, he won the tree and the honour of naming it - he named it after our daughter, Clementine. I know, Clementine the apple tree - it's pretty confusing.

It was to planted somewhere in Stroud Green and today we found it a home. An allotment holder in Stroud Green decided she could provide a home for it. So today Anna Bragga, my fellow Stroud Green candidate and I, along with Clementine (the small human) and Chris, the champion apple peeler, found ourselves planting it, and we wish it well. We look forward to tasting the fruits of our labours...