York Green Party

New Year message from York Greens

8 January 2016

From YGP we wish you and your family a happy New Year. It has been a difficult Christmas for some whose homes and businesses have been directly impacted by the floods. Our thoughts are with you.

 As the waters drain slowly away, as a party we move into 2016 reflecting on the past year with great pride, and look forward to the year ahead with hope.

 2015 was a hugely successful year for York Green Party; the May Parliamentary elections saw us capture 10% of the vote in York Central (up from 3.6% in 2010), whilst our very first candidate in York Outer gained a respectable 4.7% and over 2,500 votes. Locally, the result was even more exciting, as not only did the number of votes increase twofold from 2011, but more importantly, the number of elected councillors doubled as Denise (Guildhall) and Lars (Micklegate) joined Andy & Dave (both Fishergate) as elected members on York City Council. None of this would’ve been achievable without the time, energy and generosity of our members.

 Green influence on the council took immediate effect as Yearsley swimming pool and the Castlegate Young People’s Centre were protected from funding cuts agreed by the new council leadership in June. Successful Green amendments were also tabled at full council, including an important move towards divestment from fossil fuels. The 'calling in' of the proposed new Park & Ride contract and the Air Quality Action Plan, together with the numerous amendments made by our Green councillors strengthened the action on pollution from buses and diesel vehicles.

 As party members you have contributed too. You helped establish the People’s Congestion Commission and we set up the first public meeting (in November) with a talk from congestion and traffic expert - Professor John Whitelegg. The packed meeting room on Priory Street on a cold wintry evening had the press feverishly intrigued and resulted in the formation of a non-political independent group ‘UnJam York’. This group, it is hoped, will lead the way for sustainable transport within the city, but perhaps more importantly, it showed what can be achieved when a community unite.

 The exciting spring and summer months of Art Gallery protests, YorkPride, and coconut shies, were overshadowed by the vivid pictures that hit the national press at the end of August. The lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach - brought home the true horrors of the refugee crisis and seemingly endless wars in the Middle East. We thank you for joining us in supporting refugees and immigrants.

 Together we have marched in unison with pro-refugee groups, demonstrated against anti-immigration sentiment and steadfastly opposed the bombing of Syria in reaction to the terrible violence in Paris in November. We will always continue to support our fellow human beings no matter where they are in the world.

 Paris was also the venue of the Climate Change Conference. The much heralded agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels is a start. We have come far since the Kyoto agreement in 1992, but there is a still a long way to go.

 The UK represents the seventh largest economy in the world, yet we expect over one million people to visit foodbanks in 2016. The housing shortage has seen record numbers of people sleeping on our streets and most of us are priced out of the housing market. Indeed, over Christmas 20,000 children in the UK were homeless. Education and health budgets are under pressure with schools being forced to ‘Academise’, and hospitals having to ‘borrow’ from the private sector or face closure. Consumerism is engulfing our world, everything is bought and sold on the free market – but those who cannot afford to buy fall by the wayside. Tax avoidance and evasion go unchecked costing the Treasury over £100 billion a year. Tax rates remain low for top earners, whilst tax credits and benefits are cut for those in need.

 More recently the Government has pledged to fight climate change whilst concurrently cutting subsidies for renewable energy, supports fracking, and intends to increase airport capacity in the south. We are not blind to this hypocrisy - actions speak louder than words.

 As a party, in 2016 we will fight for greater investment in flood defences; highlight the negative impacts of climate change; and continue to campaign for more affordable housing in York. We will protest against austerity, help people in need and push for a more equal society. We will continue to spread our message, and never stop in making York a fairer, safer and wonderful place to live. With your support, we can achieve our objectives and 2016 can be another progressive year.

 In May we will have the very first Green Lord Mayor of York as Cllr Dave Taylor assumes the mantle, with Jonathan Tyler his supporting Green Sheriff. The Green voice is growing louder.

 Thank you for your support over the past twelve months. Whether it has been through leafletting, door knocking, voicing your opinions to the local press, attending members’ meetings, joining in protest, or simply supporting the party as a signed up member and being proud to be Green; we salute you. We have made a difference, we are being noticed.

 Have a wonderful New Year and we look forward to seeing you in 2016. Our first members’ meeting of the year is on Wednesday 20th January in the York Council West Offices.

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