Friday, 26 February 2010

Oxford fit to burst

Excellent meeting last night of various residents groups from Headington and East Oxford at the town hall. Must have been a couple of hundred there, and a lot of energy for getting a grip on future planning of Oxford.

The second half saw the four parliamentary candidates for Oxford East doing an 'Any Questions'. Green Party candidate Sushila Dhall was the only one to consistently draw a round of applause. She clearly had her finger on the pulse and the local knowledge. The Lib Dem candidate wasn't even aware that the city council had area committees that had planning powers.

There was a strong sense in the meeting that Oxford is suffering from regional and national planning decisions, taken remotely, requiring Oxford to grow : 'growth at all costs' and that this is now putting intolerable strains on the city, its housing, its green spaces, its transport infrastructure and is in danger of destroying its neighbourhood communities.

The biggest round of applause Sushila got was when she pointed out that the 'brownfield sites' that other candidates had suggested should be developed for housing are instead being developed for commercial use with the support of all the other parties. She was referring specifically to the currently-stalled Westgate development, a massive and unneeded shopping centre in area that was formerly affordable housing.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Greens the only effective opposition in Oxford

At last night's Council budget meeting it became clear that the Greens are the only effective opposition party in Oxford. Cllr Ed Turner (Labour) admitted as much by complimenting the Greens' budget as workable but too 'green' for the Labour group to even negotiate over. It was less effort for them to agree a compromise with an unimaginative Liberal Democrat budget that hardly differed from Labour's anyway.

Amongst the items the Labour-Lib Dem pact could not be bothered to consider were :

- support for programmes that draw in additional funds to insulate domestic properties

- a feasibility study on a city centre 'cycle hub'

- a Sustainability Officer post. There are good ideas being floated for cost-effective carbon reduction schemes but the Council has no staff resources to explore them. They are content to be a talking shop.

- taking up a new scheme that offers guaranteed income from sale of renewable energy by installing solar PV panels on the Council building.

- support for a programme to prevent the most vulnerable being made homeless

For Labour and Lib Dem, it would seem, such things are not worth considering. They take the line of least resistance and offer unimaginative 'business as usual'. They can't be trusted to prepare Oxford for its most serious future challenges without robust opposition from the Green Party.

welcome to Green Wolff

My existing blog started as the reflection of a Christian Reformed Church minister on issues to do with the relationship between religion and secular society from a theological perspective.

Increasingly, as my involvement with the Green Party in Oxford has deepened, my posts have taken the blog away from this and into different territory.

The Reformed Church asserts that the church, as an institution, must not directly hold political power; and within the life of the Church itself people should not be discriminated against on party political grounds. However, individual members and ministers are encouraged, as part of their personal witness, to be politically engaged - as individuals.

It is important, then, as a minister, to maintain a separation between my 'professional' life and my political life. Hence this blog.