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Archive for October, 2009

Councillor Maya de Souza (Highgate) writes:
I had an enjoyable, interesting time on Friday at the Youth Question Time, attended by pupils from Camden’s secondary schools.

Some of the key issues identified by participants were:
* Youth being stigmatised and feeling that their positive contributions and achievements are not recognised

I spoke about the importance of intergenerational activity to break down barriers and also tried to assure young people that the general view amongst adults was not that all young people were a problem.

* Concern about a shortage of youth services and a desire to have more of a say in what programmes and activities are provided.

I said I would try and ensure that there were some participatory workshops to involve youth in designing spaces and planning services, and that we had an interactive website in place. I also encouraged young people to take part in the forums we already have: the Youth Council and ward level Area Forums. (I spoke afterwards with the Director of the Children, Schools and Families Directorate, who said they hold such workshops, but agreed they might be better arranged on a ward basis. She also confirmed that an interactive website is now being designed.)

* Discrimination in employment: young people felt that they were at a disadvantage in the job market.

I spoke about their legal rights if discriminated against and advised that there was legal protection. But that it was most important that they got the necessary skills and training, which meant carefully choosing higher education courses and more apprenticeships and training being provided.

* University tuition fees, the high cost now and the fact that these are likely to rise further.

I explained that Green Party policy is against tuition fees as they discourage young people from poorer backgrounds from going to University. Labour and the Conservatives are for them.

Those who attended and lots of good ideas and a strong desire to take part more fully. It was great to see young people having a chance to have at least an unofficial role in electoral politics. It showed how, if the voting age were lowered, as the Green Party calls for, it would help to refresh and energise politics and reduce the sense of exclusion that young people feel from decision-making.

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There’s to be a Green Party stall at the Youth Question Time at Camden Town Hall tomorrow (Friday).

We’ve got some snazzy postcards, lots of information on climate change, about a green economy, about health and wellbeing, animal rights and much more.

You can sign up to join the party, or to get more information.

We’ll be there from noon.

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Naomi Aptowitzer agrofuelsNaomi Aptowitzer, Green Party activist in Camden Town and Primrose Hill ward, writes:

As a Green Party representative and a campaigner for alternative energy I went today to protest against this hugely under-reported and extremely worthwhile cause –- producing energy from plants through the use of unsustainable agro power stations.

The cause was strengthened by the presence of key activists, including Norwich Green Party councillor Rupert Read, who was to later give a speech on the dangers of building more biofuel stations. The event was organised by the Campaign against Climate Change, Biofuelwatch, and Food Not Fuel (London).

Agrofuels demo Oct 09 012

October 12th is an international day of solidarity with indigenous peoples and for “The Mobilization in Defense of Mother Earth and the Peoples”, which was highly relevant, as many of those affected by destruction caused by agrofuel companies reside in developing countries.

The idea that we can replace fossil fuels with agrofuels is naive. The reality is a destructive continuum implemented by big business such as logging companies who benefit from clearing forests, refinery businesses, and unethical land owners who dupe local elders into handing over their land. They all directly benefit from this government’s decision to divert renewable energy subsidies (or Renewable Obligations Certificates – ROCs) to subsidise power stations that use agrofuels.

The British government could act. It could demand a moratorium on bio-fuels until further impact studies have been investigated and the results analysed.

The crucial point in raising awareness of this issue is that there are very viable alternatives. Solar, thermal and wind power all provide clean technology and can help solve our increasing thirst for energy consumption. Yet the government’s position seems far away from actualising these lesser impacting alternatives. Instead the UK’s last but one factory producing wind turbines has closed and solar energy firms are struggling, vast “renewable energy” funding is going to agrofuels which actually make global warming much worse.

The more people are made aware of these ludicrous and destructive policies, the more we can come together to protect the global environment, protect our local environment and protest against this destructive madness.

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One of the main topics for discussion at the Camden Green Party’s monthly meeting tonight was recycling. Ideally, we’d want to offer doorstep recycling to everyone, but in some areas this may not be practical, and in some areas – for example where collectors may have to navigate large numbers of steps for a small number of flats – the financial cost may be very high.

It’s frustrating, as some members said, that at the point at which Camden is extending recycling for those with doorstop collections, so many large and relatively accessible council estates, and blocks of private flats, particularly in the south of the borough, have no such facilities.

There was also concern that the extension of recycling provision has not been adequately publicised. People with recycling boxes can now put in them:

” * juice cartons – wax-lined, poly-lined and foil-lined cartons e.g. milk cartons, orange juice cartons, also known sometimes as Tetra Pak
* plastic bags
* coloured and clear food trays e.g. fruit punnets, ready meal trays
* yoghurt containers, straws and bottle caps
* plastic containers of any size or colour, yoghurt pots, ice cream tub, margarine containers
* magazine wrapping”

More information from the council.

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Dear Sir,

This week Camden’s Health Scrutiny Committee was once again faced with proposals by the Primary Care Trust to put Camden’s health services out to tender (in which private companies will almost inevitably be the preferred bidder).

Once again, seemingly in defiance of assurances made to the Scrutiny Committee, new proposals have come forward and the tender process has been set in train without any public consultation.

Ben Bradshaw, the former Health Minister had told the Scrutiny Committee that there would be no GP-led health centre without public consultation. But last week, Dr. Atkinson of the PCT told the Scrutiny Committee that the Health Minister had made contradictory comments to Parliament, recorded in Hansard, which meant that the PCT would have no power to respond to any consultation on the principle of whether we should have a GP-led health centre and the PCT intended to go by what was said to Parliament.

I was therefore delighted that my colleagues on the Scrutiny Committee agreed to my proposal to use our powers to refer the matter of these contradictory statements to the health minister. It is to be hoped that the PCT will now act in good faith and put the GP-led health centre proposals on hold until the minister has clarified the issue. Camden’s residents are entitled at least to that measure of respect.

The letter was printed in the Camden New Journal on October 1.

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