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Green News

Here we bring you the latest news from the Green Party (and beyond). We would love to hear from you on any of the topics so please feel free to comment and add you opinions.  However, all comments will be moderated and offensive or disrespectful reponses to any particular blog will be removed.

 

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15 January 2021

  • Last-minute guidance from Government on Early Years means providers who sought to prioritise health will be punished by Government 

Greens have today spoken out regarding a last-minute change in guidance, which means that early years providers seeking to protect staff and children from Covid-19 transmission will be penalised by Government.

 

The amount of free-places funding given to early years providers is decided next week, as providers will be asked to count the number of children in attendance during the week of the census – a data counting measure that government are pursuing despite the impact of the national pandemic.

 

Prior to guidance issued on Thursday 14th January, providers were able to claim for pupils registered at a nursery and on roll under ‘exceptional circumstances’. Following this new guidance, issued at short notice, nurseries who have limited expected attendance or who have supported staff concerned about the pandemic, will not be able to claim funding for children. Brighton and Hove City Council will experience a further gap in funding as a result of the earlier committee decision to move council-run nurseries to close to all but vulnerable children and the children of key workers. [2]

 

This new guidance from government comes despite the increasing case numbers in England, and rising infection rates across all age groups in Brighton & Hove. Latest Covid-19 data has confirmed that infection rates in the city are now higher than the rate for England, more than doubling since the national lockdown began on 26th December. Rising infection rates locally have also provoked concern for the NHS, with recent news reports stating that all critical care beds in Brighton and Hove’s NHS trust are full. [3]

 

Greens say the decision to make funding decisions based on attendance in the midst of the pandemic is “grossly unfair” and will be writing to the Department for Education to challenge the decision. Councils in areas where nurseries are open to all have also begun to demand a change in position from government ministers, as it is likely that new rules mean both private and council-run nursery providers will have limited attendance of both staff and children, and experience a funding shortfall.[4]

 

This also comes in the same week councillors were told that the amount of funding given to early years providers in Brighton and Hove remains lower than the national average.[5]  

 

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion said:

 

It beggars belief that, in the middle of a pandemic crisis, the Government would deliberately change its guidance in such a way as to increase the risk of infection for children and staff.

 

Ministers are wilfully putting Councils in an impossible situation: if nursery providers remain closed, collectively they stand to lose millions of pounds; if they’re forced to open, they put staff and children at risk. To hold nursery providers and young children to ransom in this way is despicable and - following the free school meals debacle - marks a new low in the Government’s cruel and callous treatment of our young people.

 

Cllr Hannah Clare, Chair of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee said:

 

“In the middle of a pandemic, where the number of cases are higher than ever – the choice from Government is that unless we re-open our council-run nurseries, we will lose out.

 

“Asking councils to count the attendance and demand that we progress with this census during a national lockdown and some of the worst rates of this virus we have ever seen locally is grossly unfair. Providers are being forced by Government to make decisions based on finances – not on the health and wellbeing of our community.

 

“We will continue to challenge this decision and remain clear – that the health of our community is the priority of this council.”

 

NOTES

1

Guidance issued 14 January 2021 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ytd1eEIbgnIGyZP8dwdDk3Q8I0MAFmFK/view?usp=drivesdk

https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/news/2021/changes-nursery-and-early-years-provision-7-january

3

Covid-19 key statistics for Brighton & Hove (brighton-hove.gov.uk) 

and

https://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2021/01/14/its-critical-brighton-hospital-full-after-surge-in-coronavirus-cases/

https://kccmediahub.net/council-urges-government-to-review-nursery-funding-during-lockdown745

https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/documents/s161397/Families%20Children%20and%20Learning%20Fees%20and%20Charges%20202122.pdf

Last-minute guidance from Government on Early Years means providers who sought to prioritise health will be punished by Government 

 

14 January 2021

  • Jonathan Bartley: “With news of another new variant arriving from Brazil, this government’s inaction is continuing to cost lives

The Green Party has criticised the latest delay to introducing Covid checks at UK borders.

 

Little more than 24 hours before pre-departure testing for international travellers to England was due to be introduced, the government has announced that it will now only start from Monday. [1]

 

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

 

“Once again we see the government presiding over absolute chaos when it comes to tackling this pandemic.

 

“Months after other countries introduced stringent and properly resourced Covid checks at borders, Grant Shapps has announced a tokenistic and inadequate plan and failed to even implement it on time.

 

“With news of another new variant arriving from Brazil, this government’s inaction is continuing to cost lives.”

 

While the introduction of tighter international travel regulations has been welcomed by the Greens, the party has warned the UK’s restrictions do not go far enough.

 

Bartley said:

“Proof of a test up to three days before travel and then unregulated quarantine for only 10 days is not going to protect the UK either against reintroductions or new mutated strains. We need the sort of regulated quarantine in government hotels that other countries across the world have introduced, with a final test before travellers are free to enter our communities.

 

“The deeply concerning stories of people arriving at our airports and filling in a form with no follow up increases the risk of transmission but also sends a message that the government is not taking the virus seriously, thus undermining compliance with other public-health measures.

 

“As prevalence of the virus falls as a result of vaccination and movement restrictions, we need an adequate system to protect the country against new cases being brought into the country by travellers.”

 

The Green Party’s proposals are supported by evidence published by the APPG on Covid. [2]

 

Since the public health response will continue to be run by the devolved governments, introducing regulated quarantine will require the UK government to work collaboratively with the devolved administration in Wales.

 

Notes

 

1

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-negative-test-requirement-for-people-arriving-in-england-delayed-until-next-week-12187294

2

Interim report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Covid, December 2020.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/marchforchange/pages/326/attachments/original/1606989975/APPG_on_Coronavirus_Interim_Report_December_2020__%282%29.pdf?1606989975

 

8 January 2021

 

Green Party leader Jonathan Bartley has welcomed calls from the National Education Union to invest more in school staff to cut class sizes and ensure Covid safety. Bartley said:

 

“The government should be doing everything it can to reduce class sizes, both in the immediate threat of this pandemic but also for the future. This means a nationwide campaign backed up by the necessary government investment to mobilise all teaching assistants and agency staff, some of whom are furloughed and others who are unemployed.

 

“The pandemic has also revealed the inadequate amount of space in our school buildings. We need schools to have immediate access to more community buildings to allow more social distancing.  And longer term, we should reverse the decade of under investment spending cuts, enabling schools to have adequate space for safe and effective learning.”

 

Data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that 83% of schools in England will have less money this year compared with 2015 while overall, schools in England will be £2bn poorer in 2020 than in 2015.[1]

 

“It was the issue of over-crowded schools that first brought me into politics, when I had to battle to get my wheelchair-using son into our local school. The limitations on space were damaging then and they are shown to be unsafe today. We have heard much about the importance of education in recent months but this rings rather hollow and needs to be backed up with investment in school staff and buildings.

 

“I am also calling on the health secretary to show support for our brave school staff by prioritising them for vaccination.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

https://schoolcuts.org.uk/story/funding-crisis-explained/

2

The Green Party are supporting the National Education Union’s campaign for a better education system:https://twitter.com/NEUnion/status/1347146081893818374

 

7 January 2021

 

Petition launched today asks the JCVI to recognise frontline workers as a priority for receiving the coronavirus vaccine 

 

The Green Party has launched an online petition today calling on the government and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to propel all frontline workers up the coronavirus vaccination priority list.

 

Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley said: “We have heard from frontline workers themselves about the experiences they have gone through in the past year - and are still going through - in relation to the pandemic. The nature of their roles means that social workers, teachers, police officers, delivery drivers and huge numbers of others, are vulnerable, and they feel that every day when out there doing their jobs. 

 

“Being unable to work from home means they are running the risk of catching a virus which has mutated into a more transmissible and therefore more dangerous threat. So not only are they risking becoming unwell themselves but also potentially infecting loved ones at home.

 

“We want to see as many people as possible sign this petition to force the government’s hand on prioritising vaccination for all frontline workers, who are so critical in our fight against this virus.”

 

Green Party health spokesperson Larry Sanders wrote to Nadhim Zahawi MP at the beginning of December calling for this prioritisation.

 

ENDS

 

Larry Sanders’ letter dated from December can be read here: 

https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/letters/Letter-to-Nadhim-Zahawi-02122020.pdf

 

7 January 2021

 

Green Party co-leader Sian Berry: "Democracy demands defence and renewal"

 

In response to the violent scenes in Washington yesterday, the Green Party has called for a renewed commitment to democracy from all citizens, wherever they are in the world. 

 

Co-leader Sian Berry said:

"For the past five years Donald Trump has shown nothing but contempt for democracy. He has flouted democratic norms and institutions, and worse, he has incited violence on the streets and online. Yet in spite of this a large number of influential British politicians and journalists have supported him and sought his approval.

 

"Politicians, including the majority of the current Cabinet, enabled him and failed to challenge his clear attacks on democratic standards. Far right politicians epitomised by Nigel Farage, explicitly nurtured Trump’s conspiracy theories and propaganda.  Some journalists, now expressing shock, facilitated this attack on democracy and made hay from headlines and clickbait. 

 

"The UK and USA consider ourselves global leaders of democracy but we have failed to renew and update our own political systems. The events of yesterday indicate the urgent need for serious constitutional review and reform of political systems on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

"This morning we should all remember that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. We cannot afford to take democracy for granted."

 

4 January 2021

  • Sian Berry: “The government must now use this time to make schools safe and meanwhile provide a package of support for parents and children to help them get through this next difficult period

The Green Party has backed the government’s decision to follow the science and impose a third national lockdown.

 

England has followed Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by announcing national measures to combat the latest wave. The UK recorded over 50,000 positive cases for the seventh consecutive day today [Monday] and many hospitals across the country have reached an emergency situation.  

 

Sian Berry, Green Party co-leader and Mayor of London candidate, said:

 

This is an extremely difficult moment for everyone, and many of us will be facing another lockdown, and the hardship and isolation it brings, with worry and concern. 

 

“Until we have wide vaccination, and facing this steep rise in infections and a new variant spreading out of control, another nationwide lockdown is the only real tool available. I am glad the government has seen sense and listened to the science. 

 

“But they did wait too long. The situation has escalated fast in recent weeks and, once again, the Prime Minister has failed to take timely and decisive action.

 

“It has taken the unions and local authorities, including Brighton and Hove City Council led by Greens, to show leadership, take the issue in hand and do what matters. [1]

 

“The government must now use this time to make schools safe and meanwhile provide a package of support for parents and children to help them get through this next difficult period. 

 

“Gavin Williamson has had almost a year to ensure all children are properly supported for online learning, and must do more now to reduce the disruption to many children’s education that the gaps in support will cause.

 

“Once again, it is low-income families who risk losing out most because of this government’s delays. A Universal Basic Income is needed now more than ever. People who may lose work under these new lockdown measures, need guaranteed support and more certainty in this time of anguish and worry.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

On Saturday, Brighton and Hove City Council advised primary schools in the city to move to remote learning until Monday 18 January 

https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/news/2021/brighton-hove-city-council-advises-primary-schools-city-move-remote-learning-until-monday

 

2 January 2021

  • Support comes as Green-led Brighton & Hove City Council advises primary schools to move to remote learning until Monday 18 January

The Green Party has backed calls from teaching unions to take steps to protect the safety of staff and students by moving to online learning from Monday in order to reduce the spread of infection of the new coronavirus variant. [1]

 

The move comes as Green Party-led Brighton & Hove City Council has written to primary schools in the city to advise them to move to remote learning until Monday 18 January. [2]

 

Green Party education spokesperson Vix Lowthion, a secondary school teacher on the Isle of Wight, said:

 

“It is right that schools should only reopen when it is safe to do so and that cannot be the case with new-variant Covid spreading out of control. We fully support those unions who wish to remind staff of their legal rights not to work in an unsafe environment. Gavin Williamson needs to change his position on the reopening of primary schools urgently.

 

“If the government had provided disadvantaged students with what they needed in terms of laptops and connectivity earlier in the year, it would have made it much easier for all concerned to carry out learning from home now. This oversight must be rectified as soon as possible so that access to education is maintained to the best possible standards while ensuring safety for all.

 

“This is an extremely difficult time for parents, teachers and children and young people and so the government must listen carefully to the experts and trust teachers when they say it is not safe. This crisis is not going away any time soon. Teachers must be supported to deliver planned, high quality and sustainable learning within an environment which prioritises the health of the community.

 

“For once, we hope the government will stick to its own mantra and actually follow the science to protect communities and families across the country.”

 

The Green Party has also repeated its call for all frontline workers, including teachers, to be prioritised for vaccination. [3]

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

The National Education Union and the NAHT have both called for schools not to reopen and move instead to home learning

2

https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/news/2021/brighton-hove-city-council-advises-primary-schools-city-move-remote-learning-until-monday

3

https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2020/12/02/greens-call-for-all-frontline-workers-to-be-prioritised-for-vaccine/

 

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: press@greenparty.org.uk / 0203 691 9401 

 

24 December 2020

 

The Green Party has welcomed the Prime Minister's decision to step back from the brink and compromise over the level playing field but regrets the loss of influence and rights as a result of Brexit.

 

Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack said:

 

“While we are clearly relieved that we have stepped back from the cliff edge, I deeply regret the loss of rights that this Brexit deal represents. 

 

“At the same time, Labour’s refusal to play its role as opposition for fear of losing pro-Brexit voters has left us in a position where the government’s Brexit policy has remained untested.

 

“This is a political failure of the broken two party system which has let us all down in so many ways. We now essentially have only a handful of MPs representing the half of the population who wanted to maintain a close relationship with the EU.”

 

Molly Scott Cato, former MEP and Green Party Brexit spokesperson, said:

 

“At last we have some certainty about access to markets for businesses as a result of this 11th hour deal, but our economy will still be scarred by our damaging exit from the EU.

 

“For a movement that was sold on freedom and cutting red tape, the reality is that businesses and people will now have far more restrictions placed on them, and much more time will have to be spent filling forms and dealing with bureaucratic processes.

 

“Only a minority of the population wanted this outcome where we will face additional economic costs and a difficult trading environment particularly for our services exporters. We have lost so much as a result of this deal and gained so little."

 

ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact press@greenparty.org.uk or call 0203 6919 401 

18 December 2020

 

The Green Party is accusing the government today of shirking its responsibilities by pushing Covid Christmas decisions onto individuals. 

 

Rather than be clear and science-led, the government is ploughing on with Christmas rules that risk a further spate of infections in January, leaving people with impossible choices to make. 

 

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

 

“In homes up and down the country there are anxious conversations going on about what to do over Christmas, now just a week away. People are desperate to see their loved ones but they also understand that the rules the government has chosen to impose will not keep us safe. Rather than prioritising public health, ministers have been goaded by their backbenchers into a position that risks another surge in cases and deaths in the new year.

 

"What's needed is a clear sense that the government is taking responsibility for controlling the virus so that we can know that we are doing the right thing and keeping our families and communities safe - we just don’t have that at the moment. Instead there is confusion and apprehension. 

 

"Covid has exposed the inequalities and weaknesses in our society, which result from 30 years of offloading political responsibilities onto individuals and businesses. From inadequate social housing and over-stretched hospitals to a welfare safety-net that is full of holes and levels of air pollution that are killing children, this is all part of a pattern of neglect and abdication of responsibility.

 

"Covid has taught us this year the importance of community, collaboration, working together to find solutions - we need to see that reflected in the behaviour of our politicians too. Only then will we be able to make the kind of progress that’s urgently needed on the climate crisis, and avoid ending up in messes like the one we’re currently living through with Brexit."

 

16 December 2020

 

A coroner has today ruled that air pollution was a cause of the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah. [1]

 

Responding to the ruling, Sian Berry, Green Party co-leader and Mayor of London candidate, said:

 

“History has been made today, and we can finally see a measure of justice for Ella and for her mother Rosamund, who had fought so bravely to bring this case. 

 

“Now we must see emergency action from all levels of Government: the Prime Minister, the Mayor and every local council, to eliminate the sources of deadly air pollution.”

 

Caroline Russell, Green Party transport spokesperson and London Assembly member, said:

 

“We have the tools to clean up our air, and every level of Government must use every single one of them, to save lives in the future.

 

“In London, this means expanding the ULEZ to the M25, and making our streets safer and more accessible so walking and cycling are the most convenient ways to get around. In the end, we must cut the overall number of miles driven. This means a smart fair system of road charging by the mile and according to engine emissions. 

 

“Traffic clogged roads are not inevitable. Since the pandemic, the square mile of the City of London has been almost completely car free, with thousands of daily deliveries made on foot and by cargo bike. If we can do it there, we can do it anywhere we find toxic levels of pollution.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/16/girls-death-contributed-to-by-air-pollution-coroner-rules-in-landmark-case

 

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