Archive for October, 2011

by Natalie Bennett

A fascinating time was had at the apple day, particularly in learning about scores of varieties that you never see in the supermarket.

My favourites, by history anyway, included:

Dumelow’s Seedling (also called Dumeller’s Seedling, Dumelow’s Crab, Normanton Wonder and Wellington) – one of the most widely grown culinary apples of Victorian England, known for its flavour and keeping quality. (Pre cold-stores of course!). Very acid, and cooks to a rich puree. A recipe suggestion was to prepare with a sweeter cooker that keeps its shape, such as Wolf River, so the puree flows around the shape.

And the Old English Pearmain, along with the Costard the first recorded Norman apple (in 1204).


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by Natalie Bennett

I was able to snatch a little time on Wednesday to show support for the protest against workfare outside the Welfare to Work Conference, held at the Business Design Centre in Islington. (Interestingly the protest organisers report that they paid for three, high-cost, tickets for this conference about this lucrative “industry” but were denied entry.)

As speakers explained, what’s increasingly happening is that unemployed people are being forced to work for their payment, getting far less than the minimum wage for their work, and providing free labour for for-profit, indeed highly profitable companies, from major supermarkets to discount stores to councils and charities.

No one would object to the unemployed being provided with appropriate training, but forced shelf-stacking, and other unskilled labour, at what should be regarded as illegal rates, absolutely can’t be defended.

There should be the opportunity for the unemployed to take up the internship-type roles with charities and public service institutions for significant periods, while not also being forced to jump through hoops to show they continue to look for work. But it should be voluntary, it should offer opportunities to acquire real skills, and it shouldn’t be an option for for-profit companies, which should paid proper wages to anyone working for them.

And as many of the speakers pointed out, if this work is being done by unpaid forced labour, it isn’t available to properly paid workers…

Speakers also highlighted the way in which parents caring for children are being forced to look for work from when the children are aged five, with potentially disatrous consequences for the children’s care, and the parents’ peace of mind.

More information from the organisers. (Blogger Harpy Marx was also there.)

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The decision by Islington council to refuse a planning application that would remove the kitchen of the much-valued Bumblebee health food store in Kentish Town, threatening its viability, has been appealed, and there will now be a public inquiry.

The Islington Gazette explained earlier this year.

You can find out how to make your views known here.

The deadline for submissions is November 24.

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And more on Green policy on the City of London Corporation.

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by Natalie Bennett
It was a little dark for good photos, so you’re going to have to take my word (with others’) for the fact that some 2,500 cyclists turned out on Thursday night for a “flashride” to protest against TfL’s effort to pretend that the northern end of Blackfriars Bridge is a country motorway. (Among them the Green Party’s London mayoral candidate Jenny Jones.)

For many Camden cyclists crossing the river Blackfriars is a logical route to and from South London, but the plans are truly terrifying – try crossing a 30mph stream of traffic when you simply want to move from the cycle lane to the “straight-ahead” lane.

There’s no adequately safe cycle crossing of the river (and pedestrians around the busy train station here also have good cause to be concerned). An alternative plan for Blackfriars has been set out – and we need to continue to fight for this or something similar.

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