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Archive for November, 2009

The mood tonight at the public meeting of the Keep Our NHS Public group in Regents Park was celebratory – after their victory over NHS Camden, which bowed before its legal action in putting on hold plans for a GP-led health centre on Hampstead Road, and on an alternative plan, as detailed in the Camden New Journal.

Dr Marta Buszewicz, chair of the local medical council, told the meeting that it was now important for campaigners, doctors and patients to put effort into thinking about what services they did want, and what choices they wanted to see resources put into.

The meeting agreed (unanimously so far as I could see) to join the fight against the closure of the Whittington Hospital A&E, and attendees were encouraged to go to the public meeting on the issue on December 9 at 7pm, to be held at the Methodist Central Hall, Archway Close.

There was also discussion of a list of question on the NHS to be put to candidates in the general and local elections next year. Should be interesting to see the results!

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Camden Council Sustainability Task Force meetings are always interesting and this month’s was no exception, with an appeal from Friends to the Earth to Cut Carbon Locally, an innovative Camden business showing how to efficiently use solar power in the home, an update on local food-growing and discussion on building the new school in Swiss Cottage to Passivhaus standards.

Friends of the Earth have recently launched their report ‘Cutting Carbon Locally – And How to Pay For It‘, which calls on local authorities, including Camden Council, to cut emissions by 40% by 2020 and sets out ways to fund and implement the changes necessary. FOE’s Mike Childs discussed the report, and called on the council to support it.

Engineer Bill Bordass discussed why and how the new school in Swiss Cottage should be built to the PassivHaus standard. This sets a high standard for energy use and carbon emissions for the school, which is important for a building which will be serving Camden’s children for the next hundred years. Those managing the building project will need to ensure that there is good attention to detail throughout, and Passivhaus concepts need to be adapted to meet UK standards, but it is feasible to build a school this way.

Moixa Energy, a small business based in Primrose Hill, invented the usbcell, an AA battery that is recharged from a usb port, and campaign against battery waste. They showed us their plans for an ‘energy server’ box that would distribute power to DC devices (laptops, mobile phones, mp3 players, LED lighting) in the home. Hooked up to a solar panel on the roof or window shutters, it could be installed as easily as a Sky setup.

Green councillors are members of the task force, and local activists get involved too. The date of the next meeting will be advertised on the task force’s website.

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Tonight’s meeting of the area forum had an unusually exciting task: to decide how to spend the £10,000 it has been allocated for local projects (which each Camden ward has received).

The debate was heated but friendly, but in the end the decision was quite clear. The allocation ran (with some flexibility still according to actual costs):
* £1,000 to the Reflections community newsletter
* Around £1,500 to put up two new benches in the sheltered housing areas in Monica Shaw Court garden and the Brill Place entrance for the complex “for older people to sit out”.
* About £1,000 to repair broken lights in the pavement and restore the wooden benches in Chalton Street (only if the budget for this can’t be found from other sources).

But the meeting decided to spend the bulk of the money on food-growing projects in the ward. We had before us proposals from the London Wildlife Trust, which runs the Camley Street Natural Park, to install a community food-growing project in a disused playground in Ampthill Square; a call for community orchards to be established on 3-5 estates (with advice to be taken from London Community Orchards) ; and a call to develop a scheme with the Camden Garden Centre to train local children and young people in horticulture.

A small committee was formed to develop the plan (which is going to have to be done quickly, as the money needs to be spent soon), and decide on locations.

We’re glad that this Green Party proposal to give area forums a budget to use as they wish is now in operation.

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The Camden Council all-party Sustainability Taskforce meets next on Wednesday, November 25, in the town hall, starting at 6.30pm.

Speakers include the climate director of Friends of the Earth, Mike Childs; Bill Bordass, a Passivhaus architect; and Simon Daniel of Moixa Energy, a Camden-based renewables company

Everyone is welcome, and questions may be taken from the floor.

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Given that few residents of St Pancras and Somers Town have access to doorstep recycling, it is a great pity that there are also no opportunities within the ward for recycling of milk and juice cartons (commonly known as Tetra Paks).

(Although discussion on doorsteps suggests that news that these can now be included in recycling boxes and bags (see here for more details) has yet to reach many who are lucky enough to have this service.)

The bin outside Carluccio’s at the Brunswick Centre is probably closest, or they can be taken to the Regis Rd recycling centre.

Brunswick recycling

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by today at the Camden Green Party stall at the People’s Charter event in the Camden Centre, which brought together a range of interesting speakers talking about how we build a movement for social justice.

The Charter that calls for all the good stuff that happens to be in Green Party policy – including renationalising the railways, a million green jobs, and scrapping nuclear weapons. The organisation hopes to unite members of many different parties on the need of these very basic demands. As Greens we’d love to see every party adopt the policies of the charter, although we may have to wait sometime before the Tories start defending council housing.

Speakers included Labour MP John McDonnell, fire-fighter’s union leader Matt Wrack and Pregna Patel from Southall Black Sisters (a community organisation that runs women’s refuges) and more, as well as a number of speakers from the floor.

The Greens, who were the only Camden political party to have a stall, went down very well. We had lots of in-depth chats about politics, the role of trade unions in society and how on Earth we get the main three parties to recognise that, right now, we have both a broken economy and a broken democracy.

Jim

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Camden Green Party activist Naomi Aptowitzer last weekend shared the stage at the Climate Change London Forum, at the South Camden Community School, with fellow green activists to present emergency measures needed to take to Copenhagen in December.

Providing music in the form of acoustic spoken word, Naomi a.k.a MC Ni, accompanied by the ‘loved one,’ helped to spread the message with songs like ‘Calm B4 the storm’ and ‘Why Why Why wait’ to highlight the urgency of the need to reverse climate change and put pressure on policy makers.

Naomi Aptowitzer

Other Camden members were running the Green Party stall, which attracted much attention and discussion throughout the day. Thanks to all who stopped to chat, and those who signed up for more information on the Green Party.

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