Stop the Incinerator: a health disaster for the health of all of us, children and athletes included!

Here is my response to this important consultation from the Environment Agency on the Shepshed Incinerator.  By way of background, this was rejected by the County Council, before being given planning permission by Tory Secretary of State Eric Pickles who went on to a £40,000 a year role with a waste management company.

https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/psc/le12-9bu-biffa-waste-services-limited/

Dear Sir/Madam,

As the Labour Candidate for the Loughborough Constituency at the next general election I have been contacted by people from across Loughborough and Shepshed with sincere and justified concerns about the construction of this incinerator.

The location of the proposed incinerator is highly proximate to the M1 at a well populated area along that key road with the large towns of Shepshed and Loughborough very close-by.

It is well known that the air quality in the area around the M1 is poor. The very heavy traffic leads to high amounts of nitrous oxide and particulate matter, along with the CO2 emissions that are produced.

The incinerator will only add to these pollutants in a way that can only deteriorate the quality of the air breathed by local residents.

Local families who already have to breath the substandard air caused by traffic on the M1 and other trunk roads in the area will be forced to breath yet poorer air. Particular concern has to be had for those living down-wind of the proposed site.

Loughborough is by quite some considerable distance the leading elite sporting university in the country if not the world with a considerable number of world leading athletes training there. This deterioration in air quality will be of significant detriment to the air they breath. Those using the world leading, multimillion pound facilities at the university will be inevitably exposed to the detriment resulting from the deterioration in the local air quality.

It is unclear how a proper assessment of these health impacts can allow the incinerator to proceed.

The location of the incinerator is inappropriate given the many populations that will be inevitably impacted by its construction. The below table is from the Local Air Quality Protection Group (http://www.laqpg.org.uk/).

It is clear that this incinerator will have damaging impact on a disproportionate number of people from groups that include children, the elderly, and the most elite sportsmen and women in the world.

The people of Loughborough and Shepshed have long since become reconciled to living next to one of the busiest transport arteries in the country, the M1. Indeed many people live incredibly close to this very busy motorway. This has public health impacts, notably respiratory impacts, that are undeniable. It is also undeniable that there will be further deterioration as a result of the presence of this incinerator.

The impacts are disproportionate and indefensible. There must be far more appropriate locations further away from such populations.

Yours Sincerely,

Stuart Brady

Place at Risk People at risk Distance in km
Longcliffe Golf Club Outdoor sportsmen/women 1.1
Longcliffe Nursing Home Elderly people 1.8
Nanpantan Pre-school Children at play outdoors 2.0
Nanpantan Scouts Children at play outdoors 2.1
Watermead Nursery Children at play outdoors 2.2
Nanpantan Sports Fields
– Football, Cricket Outdoor sportsmen/women 2.2
Brush Bowls Club 2.2
Loughborough Tennis Club Open-air sportsmen/women 2.2
Loughborough University
– Holywell Pitches Open-air sportsmen/women 2.3
Holywell Primary School Children at play outdoors 2.5
Charnwood College Children at play outdoors 2.5
Booth Wood Primary School Children at play outdoors 2.5
Ashby Ward – Charnwood Residents 2.5
Nanpantan Ward – Charnwood Residents 2.8
Loughborough University
– Cricket Ground Open-air sportsmen/women 3.0
Loughborough University
– All-weather Pitches Open-air sportsmen/women 3.0
Loughborough University
– Athletics Track Open-air sportsmen/women 3.0
Mountfields Primary School Children at play outdoors 3.9
Loughborough Hospital Infirm people 3.7
Thorpe Acre
– Sheltered Housing etc Elderly people 3.9
Planned Garendon Park SUE Residents 1.0 – 1.5
Planned Science & Enterprise Parks Employees 1.5 – 2.0
DNRC Stamford Hall Infirm people 9

My Speech speaking out against the values President Trump represents #stoptrump #protesttrump

Yesterday I spoke at the Leicester demonstration against President Trump and what he stands for.  This is the speech as written (there may have been more than a few divergences in delivery!).

Speech to Trump protest 13th July 2018

Why is this protest against Donald Trump’s visit important?   We’ve hard won rights in this country like that which we celebrated in this town with the unveiling of the Alice Hawkins statue celebrating 100 years of some women getting the vote.

Rights that have been shared  by a community of nations.

Principles of respect and non-discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or sexual orientation.

These principles need to be preserved.  They are preserved by civilised countries and people coming together to show what is okay and what’s not okay.

And that is what this is all about.

We have a President in the White House who is a proven racist and mysognist.  And he is using the highest office in the world’s most powerful country to attack the hard-won values and freedoms that people, particularly from the Labour movement, have fought hard to win and retain.

So today is about saying enough is enough.

We cannot stand by as someone in his position:

  • Repeatedly objectifies and abuses women.
  • Repeatedly behaves in a racist manner.
  • Condones police brutality.
  • Puts into place migration policies that single out countries on the basis of religion.
  • Propagates the most hostile environment for migrants. Seperating children from their families at the border and caging them.  Potentially never to be reunited.

And today is as much about what sort of country we want to be, as what sort of president Mr Trump is. 

Because we see some of these characteristics coming into our politics.  The complete absence of humanity shown to people of colour in our migration policies.  The ongoing failure to address gender imbalances.  Narrow parochialism and casual xenophobia that has become so mainstream.

Well, enough is enough.

And we have a choice to make.  As our values are being challenged here and abroad, we have the rise of strongmen, from China, to Russia, to Turkey.  Free-speech, LGBT rights being challenged, gender equality failing to progress.

Do we turn a blind-eye for the sake of some mythical special economic relationship with a demagogue who has already rewarded our loyalty with massive trade barriers? Or do we use this opportunity to say to Trump, they way you talk, the way you act, the way you are trying to lead the Western world, it’s not okay, it has to stop, the world is watching you and will not dance to your tune.
So we should be proud of the reception we are giving Mr Trump, because this is who we are, and this is the the direction that the world should be going in.

Mr Trump you’re not welcome here.

Chequered approach to Brexit: two years of the self-indulgent Tories at their worst

“To lead is to decide”.  That is what Theresa May told the Tory backbenchers last night (9th July 2018).

I think in this instance the Prime Minister should have followed the approach she adopted to her nonsensical “Brexit means Brexit” soundbite.  Because in actual fact “to lead is to lead”, and good leaders bring others with them.

The tumult of the last few days has its origins way back in Mrs May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016.  When she set out red lines like the European Court of Justice having no role in a post-Brexit future, she may have brought Brexiteers like Davies and Johnson on board, but she set-up a negotiating position that was not consistent with prioritising market access.

From that point on it was inevitable that there was going to be a reckoning.  Either in Brussels as she took over a negotiating position that was so full of demands for “British-only” rules and oversight that the EU would never grant the market access we so badly need; or, within her own cabinet as Brexiteers complained that Mrs May, in seeking the market access we need, had rolled back on the hard-line position set-out in 2016.

Mrs May had set out two irreconcilable desires back in 2016.  Complete autonomy for the UK on the one hand, with the required market access, on the other.  There was always going to be a point at which she was going to have to look over the cliff-edge and have second thoughts.

This seems to have happened in the run up to the Chequers Summit.

The reality is that the Chequers Summit should have happened two years ago.  Probably, before the Article 50 process even started.  Not around 3 months prior to the key summit for determining our future relationship with the EU.

Proper leadership would have canvassed and marshalled her Cabinet’s opinion to a reconciled position long ago.  That would have been how to lead in the national interest.

Instead, we have been forced to engage in a prolonged shadow-boxing session with the EU whilst the Conservative Cabinet engages in open-warfare over our negotiating position.  Violating all the norms of good Cabinet Government while the March 2019 deadline draws ever closer.

So, what has all this been about? What has been the point of the last two years of UK Government work and efforts on the Brexit negotiations (remember the army of civil servants hired to work on this)?  It seems that keeping the Tory Party together has trumped all else.  That is the case whatever one’s opinion on Brexit.  This Government has not advanced the country in any meaningful direction on Brexit.  It has been about the Conservatives and Theresa May staying in power.

We have had Airbus, BMW, Jaguar Land-Rover, and others express major concern at this lack of progress in recent weeks.  If the Labour Party had been in the driving seat we would have committed to a customs union (as we did many months ago) and none of these companies would be making these statements.  I would even suggest investment levels in these high-employing sectors would be substantially higher.

This last two-years has been the self-indulgent Tory party as its very worst.  It’s time for a change.

 

 

 

Swansea Lagoon decision and others: A bad week for our public health, economy, climate, and commitment to innovation.

Ever since I was in school (a long while ago!) it seems that people have talked about the potential of tidal energy in the Severn Estuary.  It was incredibly disappointing to hear that government had kicked the proposed tidal energy lagoon in Swansea into touch.   A decision rounded upon by local politicians of all colours.  A massive missed opportunity.  Unlike the Tories’ deal with the DUP it would have been £1 billion well spent.  Contrast with the £30bn EDF Hinkley nuclear project is also instructive.

The fact it came in a week where public health and environmental concerns were summarily dismissed in the Heathrow decision is doubly depressing.

My friend Chris Grocock has penned the following piece explaining why we should have gone ahead with the lagoon.

Chris Growcock

With this decision the Conservative Party has backed an outdated potentially dangerous technology where the expertise, ownership and engineering skills sit with foreign state owned companies (China and France) and which, like fossil fuels, still relies on importing an unstable finite fuel supply (Uranium) from the global marketplace.

The Prime Minister and Secretary of State have turned down a world-first opportunity to build a sustainable renewable power source extracted from our national waters, invest in jobs and skills, regenerate local communities, reduce carbon emissions, reinvigorate British industry and develop an entirely new sector of the UK economy.

The false idea that this decision has anything to do with the market is a nonsense. It is a purely political decision based on the unwillingness of the Tories to show any imagination or oppose the vast power of vested interests in the energy sector.

Yet serious public investment in the technological and industrial development of renewable energy would be truly transformative – environmentally, economically, socially and politically.

Over time it would eventually lead to an oversupply of inexhaustible electricity causing the price to plummet and ushering in an era of inexpensive, clean energy. How can renewables not be cheaper when the fuel source is infinite, abundant and doesn’t require expensive extraction from increasingly inaccessible locations? All that’s missing is the investment in technology and infrastructure to create economies of scale. The spin off benefits would be incredible.

And this is how Labour’s proposed national investment bank and regional development banks can and will most fundamentally transform Britain and set an example to the wider world.

It’s not principally about being green although the environmental impact would see us lead the way in the fight against climate change.

Nor is it about foreign policy although it would be great for Britain not to compromise with corrupt authoritarian regimes or feel the need to invade countries to secure our energy supply.

It’s not even about economic development although it would be amazing to cultivate new cutting edge industries, create thousands of jobs and improve the productivity of the UK workforce.

It’s ultimately about demonstrating a belief that sustained investment and innovation can make energy so cheap, even free at the point of use, that it is available to everyone entirely on the basis of need no matter their wealth, status or position.

I don’t know if anybody can truly conceive what that would look like in its entirety – for health, transport, education, housing, for information technology, industry, construction and agriculture – but it has to be one of the great missions of 21st century socialism.

For today, for tomorrow, and the future of our country.

The Shelthorpe/Chimes Fence: what’s going on?

20180608_164642

I have been contacted by Sheltorpe residents who were concerned about this fence.  It blocks off the end of a footpath between Manor Drive on the Shelthorpe Estate, and an open space with a very nice looking playground for younger children.  That open space sits on the Chimes Estate which is still partly being built.  The park is finished.  Children play on it.  The grass around it is in good shape.

People got in touch with me because they wanted to know why children on the Shelthorpe Estate were having to take a ten-minute or more detour to get to a bit of open space with a lovely community asset on it. The trip would otherwise be around 30 seconds.

Many people have memories of going down the self-same path to play on the open space that used to occupy the land where the new estate is being built.

I have been to the site twice now to see and hear what is going on.  Today I went to speak to local residents.  One, who lived within metres of the fence reported that it has been up since the building started, he was none the wiser as to why it was still up.

I also visited the office of the David Wilson Homes who are developing the site.    They were very courteous to me.  It’s fair to say the gentleman I spoke to did not have the answer but said he would get the relevant person to contact me.

I await eagerly, but won’t wait around if the response is slow.

One aspect of this is the way that these new estates across Loughborough are being constructed and sold.  The parks and open spaces, and some other community amenities will not be administered by the Borough Council in the normal way, but will be maintained by a management company who takes a service-charge from those living on the estate.  It’s a daft idea, basically privatising open-spaces, and introducing an additional private council tax.

This arrangement may mean that some of the paths around the park (on this plan below) will be maintainable by the management company.  But in my view if the public has exercised a right of way over the path to what used to be recreation land (and still is), they should still be granted that right of way.

20180615_124158

We will see what the construction firm come back with.

You would hope, however, that they would see sense: there is a community asset in the park, there is a path to it, and on any common sense view all members of the community ought to be able to use the park and access it by way of the path.

To be continued…

My speech today to the NAPO East Midlands Conference in Quorn: the end of the road for privatisation of our public services

Today I gave a speech to NAPO, the professional body for probation employees.   They were such a nice, thoughtful and talented group of people to spend my afternoon with.

I set out what a disaster  the privatisation of much of the probation service has been since services for the so called “less serious offenders” were transferred into 21 “Community Rehabilitation Companies”: leaving a fractured and under-performing system.

The following damning reports give you a flavour:

  • The Chief Inspectorate of Probation 2017 Annual Report released in December 2017  stated: “the quality of CRC work to protect the public is generally poor”; that “Government reform of probation has created a ‘two-tier and fragmented’ system in which private companies are performing significantly worse than public sector elements” and “CRCs have reduced staff numbers, some to a worrying extent.”
  • A report from the Chief Inspectors of Probation and Prison in June 2017 stated: “CRCs are making little difference to their prospects on release. …The overall picture was bleak. If Through the Gate services were removed tomorrow, in our view the impact on the resettlement of prisoners would be negligible.”
  • A recent National Audit Office report showed that the 21 private probation companies on average met just one-third of the 24 targets set to them by the Ministry of Justice.
  • Tens of thousands of offenders – up to 40% of the total – being supervised by telephone calls every six weeks instead of face-to-face meetings, according to the chief inspector of probation.

And this really matters in our area as the figures for crime in Leicestershire are rapidly getting worse:

 

  • Recorded crime in Leicestershire has risen by more than a fifth (21%) from 2016 to 2017, from 65,717 offences recorded by police in 2016 to 79,250 in 2017, a rise of 13,533 crimes.
  • Among the types of crime seeing a big rise was violence against the person: a 29% rise in 2017.
  • A 27% rise in reports of sexual offences between 2016 and 2017, with a total of 1,991 sexual offences reported last year.
  • Possession of weapons offences were up, with a 43% rise in 2017, one of the biggest increases in England and Wales.
  • Drug offences were also rising, up 28% in a year.

(see https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/policeforceareadatatables )

This matches with what I hear anecdotally is happening in Loughborough. Yes, Labour’s 10,000 additional police officers nationwide would address this crime. But in terms of the causes of crime, probation is essential, meaning ending the debacle of the privatised CRCs is essential.  And Labour will end it.

On the back of the Carillion debacle, when it went bust owing £7 billion, this is yet more evidence that the private sector has no place running our public services.  We are out on a limb as a country with the Economist calling us the “world-leader” in the privatisation of public services.  It has been a colossul experiment.  It has failed.

 

Mrs Morgan’s Tilda Rice Brexit was as unclear as ever, Labour is the only party offering a secure jobs-first Brexit

Yesterday we were treated to Loughborough’s Tory MP Nicky Morgan joining Nick Clegg and David Miliband at the Tilda Rice factory in Essex to say… well what exactly?  The truth is that that in our country we have a party system.  Politicians stand on a party manifesto, get elected, and then what happens is largely shaped by that manifesto, and the cabinet working in concert with the whips and the parliamentary party.

On the Conservative side, these basic facts are becomingly increasingly strained.  The recent furore around a made-up customs partnership versus the soundbite “maximum facilitation” is just the latest symptom of a party comprised of people who cannot even reconcile their own personal ideological approach with the substantive measures they are calling for.

So, this begs the question of where did Mrs Morgan’s intervention at the Tilda Rice plant get us and the voter in trying to discern an alternative approach to Brexit and how that may be achieved?

Mrs Morgan has been as unclear as she has been inconsistent on what type of soft-Brexit she would like.  Much less, on how she, a Conservative, will advance the country’s position.

In March of this year Nicky Morgan took to the BBC to say “mutual recognition of regulations is the way to go” in endorsing the substance of the Prime Minister’s Mansion House Brexit speech.  This is a very far cry from membership of the European Economic Area or achieving any benefit of the single market: “mutual recognition” of regulations is very different to the “mutual adoption” of regulations that would be required to properly enjoy single market benefits.

Perhaps it is this lack of clarity that has undermined her efforts to shape Tory policy on Brexit.  Or perhaps it is the fact that her approach offers a very fuzzy alternative to the two well-established camps in cabinet.  And with the hard Brexiteers in the ascendancy it has been, and will remain, a case of vote for a Tory MP, get hard Tory Brexit.