4th Dec Goole Demo at Planning Inspectorate Hearing for Drax switch from coal to gas

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The Planning Inspectorate is examining Drax Power Station plans to replace its two remaining coal-fired units with a much larger power station (3.6GW) burning fossil (natural) gas.  This will, if granted, allow Drax to secure its position as the UK’s biggest fossil fuel burner for decades to come!

The Planning Inspectorate held a  preliminary hearing for this in October and the next hearing will be in Goole on 4th December.

Biofuelwatch intend to hold a short and respectful banner protest outside this hearing, starting at 1.30pm as people are going in to the hearing and finishing at 2pm so they can go in and listen to the hearing too.

The Goole demo will be a good opportunity to let the Planning Inspectorate know (again) that there is widespread opposition to Drax’s proposal on the grounds of climate change. Continue reading

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Fed up with rubbish train service? Support the RMT & tell Northern trains via Northern Resist

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Upper Calder Valley passengers are increasingly fed up with the rubbish train service on the Transpennine route run by Arriva Rail North – a private, profiteering company owned by Deutsche Bahn, which is turn is owned by the Federal Republic of Germany. To add to the confusion, Arriva Rail North announces itself publicly as Northern trains.

On 20th September Calderdale Trades Council held a meeting in Halifax Town Hall where Craig Johnston,  National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) Relief Regional Organiser North, spoke about the dispute with Northern over driver-only operated trains.

Craig Johnston outlined crucial safety reasons for resisting driver-only operated trains and said  RMT encourages passengers to confront Northern eg through the Facebook group, Northern Resist, about fare rises, poor rail links, poor services, penalty fares policy, closure of ticket offices and the policy of only selling the most expensive tickets on trains. Continue reading

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11th August rally to ban grouse shooting, St George’s Sq, #HebdenBridge 11.30am

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The moors above Hebden Bridge are some of Yorkshire’s most iconic beauty spots – and also a vital source of biodiversity, a huge natural carbon sink and a natural means of slowing the flow of pluvial flooding into the Upper Calder Valley – if not mismanaged for grouse shooting.

Yorkshire Water has put them in jeopardy. The company lets out uplands to grouse shooters who decimate the wildlife for sport by trap and gun. Not only this – large sections of heather are deliberately burnt to increase game bird numbers, destroying blanket bog and contributing to flooding in the valley and other sections of the county. By leasing out land for grouse shooting, Yorkshire Water is damaging wildlife, habitat, visitor experiences and the regional economy.

What shall we do? Saturday 11 August is the day before the start of the grouse shooting season. We will hold a respectful protest in Hebden Bridge’s Town Square to urge Yorkshire Water to stop leasing land above the town for grouse shooting. Continue reading

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Integrated Care System papers show West Yorkshire and Harrogate are hurtling towards an unaccountable Local Health Service

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On 30 July (2pm, Leeds Civic Centre) a meeting in public of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan Joint Health Scrutiny Committee will question  West Yorkshire and Harrogate Integrated Care System leaders about what they’re up to.

Papers for the Committee clearly show that the Integrated Care System plans mean an overall substantial change to NHS, social care and public health services across the region. Continue reading

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Campaigners call for public consultation on West Yorkshire and Harrogate Integrated Care System

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (phew, a mouthful) is meeting on Monday 30th July at 2pm in Leeds Civic Hall. It is to scrutinise the Integrated Care System that recently developed from the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, as part of NHS England’s Integrated Care System Development Group.

The meeting is open to the public and NHS campaigners are going to make deputation statements at the start of the meeting. If you’re coming, please try and turn up at 1.30pm for a group photo – with placards, please bring some. Continue reading

Wigan Council confirms its £2m “investment” to discontinue Wigan hospitals’ WOS will pay for other cost-cutting changes

A few weeks ago, a Wigan Council press release announced that the Council had made the Wrightington Wigan & Leigh hospital trust a financial offer that had averted the Trust’s transfer of its support staff into a Wholly Owned Subsidiary.

Amid rejoicing that Wigan hospitals staff were to remain as NHS employees and that the cost-cutting Wholly Owned Subsidiary was not happening,  Unison called off the planned strike.

But some feared it might be Out of the Wholly Owned Subsidiary frying pan into the Accountable Care fire.

To find out, I sent Wigan Council a Freedom of Information request.

They have now replied with this paper for August 2nd Cabinet from the Director of Resources (Deputy Chief Executive). Continue reading

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Calderdale Food Network funding ended by NHS and Council

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Calderdale Food Network, which aims to make affordable, good food a defining characteristic of Calderdale, is facing a total funding cut by March 2019.

Paul Butcher,the Calderdale Director of Public Health, told Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board in June that Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group funding ended in June 2018. Calderdale Council Public Health can continue some funding until March 2019.

This will pay to support Calderdale schools and early years settings across to serve high quality food throughout the school day, and to provide food education – including cooking, growing and creating links with local farms and food producers.

Paul Butcher pointed out that at £400m/year, the food economy in Calderdale is bigger than tourism etc. He wants  to do work about supporting the food economy through procurement policies etc.

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Is Wigan Council’s solution a question of Out of the Wholly Owned Subsidiary frying pan, into the Accountable Care fire?

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A Wigan Council press release (below) says the Council has made the Wrightington Wigan & Leigh hospital trust a financial offer that has averted the Trust’s transfer of its support staff into a Wholly Owned Subsidiary.

While it is great news that the Wigan hospitals staff are to remain as NHS employees and that the cost-cutting Wholly Owned Subsidiary is not happening, there is no public information about what the Council’s solution and funding option are.

What are people’s thoughts about Wigan Council’s solution to the Wigan hospitals trust Wholly Owned Subsidiary?

I’m hoping it’s not Out of the Wholly Owned Subsidiary frying pan into the Accountable Care fire.

Continue reading

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Councils’ privatisation of waste management services is a massive mess – Greater Manchester has borrowed £500m to end PFI waste deal

Privatisation is not just making a mess of our NHS. It is also making a mess of a whole host of Council services, including waste management.

An article by Greg Pitcher in today’s Local Government Chronicle reports that Greater Manchester Combined Authority has borrowed £500m to end its PFI waste deal with Viridor Laing.

It has done this in order to re-procure a cheaper waste management services contract with a private company. Viridor is among 6 companies that are in the running to win the contract. So Greater Manchster Combined Authority are paying £500m to buy out a contract so they can re-procure a cheaper one, possibly from the same company.

The Local Government Chronicle website provides a sorry saga of waste management services profiteering, rip offs and incompetence. The argument that private sector provision of public services would increase efficiency and value for money lies dead in the water. If it ever had any life in it,  it certainly doesn’t now. Continue reading

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National Trades Councils Conference’s unanimous opposition to Accountable Care Systems

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The 150th Annual Trades Council Conference has unanimously passed a composite NHS motion from Cheshire, Calderdale and Derby Trades Councils, that calls on the TUC to take action to oppose Accountable Care Systems (rebranded by NHS England as “Integrated Care Systems”) and Sustainability and Transformation Plans/Partnerships; and to support the campaigning activity of Keep Our NHS Public, Defend our NHS, 999 Call for the NHS and Health Campaigns Together.

Continue reading

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