Fracking and the police, crime and sentencing bill 2021
8 April 2021
I am shocked that Mr Hollinrake voted for changes in the law which would have made this peaceful protest against fracking in Ryedale impossible.
People from all walks of life turned out in thousands in Malton in 2015 to demonstrate their opposition to fracking. The effectiveness of this demonstration laid the foundation for the sustained campaign of opposition to fracking in Ryedale which hampered the development of fracking at the Kirby Misperton site and ultimately led to the withdrawal of the developer.
No fracking is now taking place in Ryedale and although the licences still exist Ryedale is safe from fracking for the time being. Demonstrations like this took part around the country and it is primarily because of them that there is currently no fracking anywhere in the UK.
Under Priti Patel’s proposed new law, to go on a demonstration like this would risk a £2,500 fine and/or up to ten years in prison because in being effective it was also both noisy and inconvenient. This threat would have deterred most people and fracking would probably now be ongoing.
The police, crime and sentencing bill is a rag bag of measures. It includes welcome increased protection to emergency service workers and to some at risk groups although it fails to address the issue of violence against women and girls. However, bundling erosion of freedom to protest with uncontroversial protections of individuals is devious and dishonest.
Will Mr Hollinrake change his mind and vote to protect the freedom of his constituents to protest effectively against future threats such as fracking when the bill comes back to the House of Commons?
Hotchpotch of local government reorganisation
5 April 2021
The coronavirus crisis has been and continues to be traumatic for individuals, families, communities and countries across the world. It is hard to think of little else when coronavirus so dominates our lives. Yet the government has chosen this time to force far-reaching changes in vital local services for which there is no popular demand.
Thirsk & Malton Labour Party are opposed to the piecemeal, haphazard reorganisation of local government. The pattern of local government across England is now a complete mess. Unitary councils range in size from Rutland with 38,000 people, to Birmingham with over a million. Cambridgeshire with a population around 650,000 has an elected mayor, a combined authority, a county council, a unitary council and five district councils. Northamptonshire, with about 100,000 more people, is to be governed by just two unitary councils. The various combined authorities have varying powers and responsibilities. Citizens should not have to use search engines and exhaustive research to find out who is responsible for what.
What is the government’s view on this nation-wide hotchpotch? No one knows – it promised to publish its views in a white paper that has been delayed time and time again.
Funding has a major impact quality and performance of local government. For every £1 of national financial support for local services in 2015, there was just 23 pence in 2020.
We are not opposed to change – a system designed half a century ago and tinkered with by successive governments needs to be reviewed. But review and reform should be comprehensive, properly considered, involve citizens, and command public support.
Derek Draper – time for solidarity
19 March 2021
Readers will be saddened by the news that Derek Draper, a founder of New Labour, is desperately ill with Covid-19. The TV documentary on his experience of long covid scheduled for 23 March should be essential viewing. A very clear message should go to the family – you have our full support.
Draper has a long history of political involvement, and was an important element of the New Labour Right. In 1996 he formed Progress with Liam Byrne, but then left politics and retrained as a psychotherapist. He married TV presenter Kate Greenaway in 2005 and they have two children. In March last year, he was rushed to hospital with a severe bout of Covid-19 and placed in a medically induced coma.
Draper has suffered kidney failure, liver and pancreatic damage, and on more than one occasion his heart
stopped. He has lost eight stone in weight and is believed to be Britain’s longest surviving covid patient in intensive care.
In March 2020 his lungs were solid with infection and his infection rates were the highest doctors had seen in someone who has survived. He has made progress since then, but when he came out of the coma he was unable to speak more than the occasional word. He is still seriously ill and his wife cannot see him due to restrictions.
The only issue now is that he makes as full a recovery as possible and that his family and his medical team know he is supported. In the longer term, long covid sufferer must not be allowed to slide out of public view.
Finding Derek, narrated by Kate Greenaway, will be broadcast by ITV on Tuesday 23 March at 9pm.
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