23
Feb 21

At the Mendip District Council meeting on Monday, 22nd February, councillors passed a motion overwhelmingly to support a trial of Universal Basic Income in Mendip.

The motion was proposed by Cllr. Shane Collins, leader of the Green Party Group, and seconded by Cllr. Ros Wyke, LibDem leader of Mendip – and passed with cross party support.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr. Collins said:

“Tonight the council voted overwhelmingly to support our motion for a UBI trial in Mendip. Many thanks to the 29 Green and LibDem councillors who voted in favour. Our next step is to write to the government asking for a trial – so don’t hold your breath – but Mendip is now one of many councils who have asked for a trial. This is progressive pressure to make sure UBI is debated at (and before) the next election.”

“In a time of COVID, Brexit, Artificial Intelligence, the ‘gig economy’, and Climate Emergency, the amount of paid jobs are shrinking and with 5.8 million people on Universal Credit and often falling through the net, now is the time for a UBI trial in Mendip.”

“UBI would simplify and replace benefits such as Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits and work alongside housing benefit and carers allowance, with additional UBI payments for groups of people who experience barriers to working, including disabled people, single parents and people of pension age – offering basic financial security for all people at a time when it is needed more than ever.”

The motion in full:

A Universal Basic Income Trial in Mendip

Motion to be moved by: Shane Collins, Keyford Ward Green Party Councillor, seconded by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of MDC.

Date submitted: 9th February 2021.

Passed: 22nd February 2021.

This council notes:

1. The drastic impacts of the Covid pandemic on employment and household incomes in Mendip, in particular the self employed, those on zero hours contracts and people working in the arts, festival and cultural industries.

2. The threat to income and employment from Brexit, climate breakdown, automation and artificial intelligence, which could affect a great many more jobs in future;

3. The development of universal basic income (UBI) trials in other countries, which offer a non-means-tested sum paid by the state to cover the basic cost of living, which is paid to all citizens individually, regardless of employment status, wealth, or marital status, which has been widely debated in recent months;

4. The resolutions of other local authorities including Sheffield, Bristol, Oxford, Birmingham, Lewes, and Brighton and Hove (with cross party support) calling for trials of UBI;

5. A network of Universal Basic Income Labs has been set up and works with local authorities across the UK developing UBI proposals to address problems such as poverty, inequality, discrimination and environmental damage, long-term and immediately, in relation to coronavirus.

6. UBI has been Green Party Policy since the 1970s and now taken up by the Liberal Democrats and more recently the Labour manifesto calling for a UBI trial.

7. The time has come for Universal Basic Income.

This council believes:

1. That the current benefit system is failing citizens, with Universal Credit causing hardship to many communities;

2. A UBI is the fairest, most effective way to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on people’s incomes as it does not discriminate between employment status, caring responsibilities, age, or disability when providing basic support;

3. There is a danger of increasing numbers of people facing poverty as a result of the coronavirus crisis;

4. Testing a UBI is needed, as a UBI has the potential to help address key challenges such as inequality, poverty, precarious employment, loss of community, and breach of planetary boundaries through:

i. Giving employers a more flexible workforce whilst giving employees greater freedom to change their jobs;

ii. Valuing unpaid work, such as caring for family members and voluntary work;

iii. Removing the negative impacts of benefit sanctions and conditionality; and

iv. Giving people more equal resources within the family, workplace and society;

v. Breaking the link between work and consumption, thus helping reduce strain on the environment.

vi. Enabling greater opportunities for people to work in community and cultural activities or to train or reskill in areas that will be needed to transition to a lower-carbon economy.

5. The success of a UBI pilot should not be measured only by impact upon take-up of paid work, but also the impact upon communities and what the people within them do, how they feel, and how they relate to others and the environment around them; and

6. Given its history of social innovation, wealth of expertise, and active networks across community, business and public services, Mendip is ideally placed to pilot a UBI.

Full Council calls on the Chief Executive / Leader to:

1. Send a joint letter with the other party leaders to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the leader of the party in Government, their counterparts in all opposition political parties in parliament, and all local MPs, and media asking for a trial of Universal Basic Income in Mendip citing the above reasons.

14
Sep 20

Join The Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign!

Green Mayor of Glastonbury, Cllr. Jon Cousins, joins Extinction Rebellion outside the Town Hall to call on Somerset County Council to divest from fossil fuel companies.

At the end of August, all five councils in Somerset were targeted by Extinction Rebellion over investments in fossil fuels by the councils’ pension fund.

Somerset is on the front line of climate change. Climate Change has caused, and is predicted to cause, a much greater risk of flooding and extreme weather. After the devastating floods of the Somerset Levels in 2013, Somerset County Council saw the terrible impact of climate change first hand. The Council recognises the potential impacts of climate change yet its pension fund invests over £120,000,000 in the very fossil fuel companies that are causing climate change!

Since 2015, Greens in Mendip have been leading the call for Somerset County Council to divest from fossil fuel.

Green Party district councillor for Frome Keyford, Shane Collins, who is leading the campaign for the SCC pension fund to divest, said: “Somerset County Council recognises that it must do whatever it can to tackle climate change and it has a responsibility to divest from an industry that jeopardises the future of our planet.”

“Instead of fossil fuel investment, SCC Pension Fund Committee should invest in solutions to climate change; investments that protect pensions and planet, joining The British Medical Association, Bristol City Council, and Oxford City Council – who have all recently agreed to make the commitment to no direct investment in the fossil fuel industry.”

Please sign our petition, and share widely.

Over one thousand people so far have signed the petition urging the council to heed the advice of financial experts and remove its investments from overvalued fossil fuel companies, but so far the council seems unwilling to acknowledge how it contributes to climate change with these unwise investments.

Useful links:

Our petition - please sign!

Fossil Free UK

12
Aug 20

Tree planting in the neighbourhood

Green Councillor Ian Mutch points to some of the willow trees he planted on the Beckery two years ago.

There is a very promising development in the tree planting front here in Glastonbury as I discovered when I met up with Green Town Councillor Ian Mutch recently.

A number of flourishing Crack Willows (Salix fragilis) are to be found on the Sydenhams Timber yard side of the Mill Stream rivulet running alongside Beckery Road.

Cllr. Mutch planted the small seedlings over the past two years and they are growing magnificently in their new homes.

This is what is hoped to be the first of a large number of seedlings which will be planted in the Glastonbury and Street area over the next few years.

Cllr. Brian Outten

9
Aug 20

When we say ‘Never Again’, we mean it

“We must never forget – and pledge never again to inflict such mass destruction. That should start with the UK scrapping plans to replace and upgrade Trident, and instead sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
Caroline Lucas MP.


On Sunday 9th August, Glastonbury’s Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Sue Barnet, observed The Silent Minute at 11:02 a.m. to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bomb.

A member of the international movement Mayors For Peace, Cllr. Cousins read a message from Mayor Taue of Nagasaki:

“Exactly 75 years have passed since the day our city was assaulted by a nuclear bomb. Despite the passing of three quarters of a century, we are still living in world where nuclear weapons exist.
I appeal to the leaders of countries around the world.  Please aim to break down the growing climate of distrust and instead build trust through dialogue... At this very time, please choose solidarity over division. At the NPT Review Conference, which is scheduled for next year, I ask that you show a workable way towards nuclear disarmament.”

“ ‘Only 100 seconds remain.’ In order to symbolize this state of crisis, the ‘Doomsday Clock’, an indicator of the time left until the earth’s extinction, was set at its shortest time ever this year.”

The observation took place at Glastonbury’s Peace Pole which was planted on 26th January 2013 by the Pilgrim Reception Centre supported by Uma Uchima, from the World Peace Prayer Society and Tatomir Ion-Marius, a Romanian Peace Ambassador and international peace worker.

Glastonbury’s Peace Pole has “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written on it in eight languages and also a Braille plate. Located on the grass verge at the front of St Dunstan’s car park in the centre of the town, it ensures visitors and residents all have the opportunity to see and feel the message.

3
Aug 20

Observing ‘The Silent Minute’ on the 75th Anniversary of Nagasaki

In light of the significant 75th anniversary in August of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during the Second World War, Glastonbury’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor will observe a Silent Minute at 11:02 a.m. on Sunday, 9th August 2020* – remembering all victims of nuclear weapons.

Glastonbury’s Mayors are members of Mayors For Peace, an international body which came into being on 24th June 1982 at the second United Nations Special Session on Disarmament held in New York, when Takeshi Araki, the then Mayor of Hiroshima, called for cities throughout the world to transcend national borders and work together to press for nuclear abolition.

As Mayors for Peace, Glastonbury’s Mayor Cllr. Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor Cllr. Sue Barnet call on the UK Government to support the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which is working towards the complete prohibition of developing, testing, and using nuclear weapons. At present, the UK Government has refused to sign or ratify the treaty, which has been signed by 81 members of the United Nations…

The observation of the Silent Minute will take place at Glastonbury’s ‘Peace Pole’, which is situated outside Glastonbury Information Centre, St. Dunstan’s House – at the entrance of the Magdalene Street Car Park.

Please note: If you wish to observe the Silent Minute in a public space, please respect social distancing rules.

The Silent Minute:
The Silent Minute was conceived by Glastonbury visionary, Major Wellesley Tudor Pole O.B.E. in 1940, during the Battle of Britain.

Tudor Pole’s vision was for people to unite in meditation, prayer, or focus (each according to their own belief) and consciously will for “peace to prevail”.

The concept of the dedicated Silent Minute received the direct support of King George VI, Sir Winston Churchill and his Parliamentary Cabinet. It was also recognized by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and observed on land and at sea on the battlefields, in air raid shelters, and in hospitals.

With Churchill’s support, the BBC, on Sunday, 10th November 1940, began to play the bells of Big Ben on the radio as a signal for The Silent Minute to begin.

The tradition of The Silent Minute continues to this day, and Glastonbury Council observe The Silent Minute at the beginning of each of our meetings.

Tudor Pole explained it’s meaning thus: “There is no power on earth that can withstand the united cooperation on spiritual levels of men and women of goodwill everywhere.”

The Original Silent Minute Flyer


* The anniversary of the time and date of the Nagasaki atom bomb, which instantly killed over 60,000 people at 11:02 a.m. on 9th August 1945, resulting in Japan’s unconditional surrender, effectively ending the Second World War.

1
Jul 20

Green World Obituary: Denise Michell 1952-2020

Denise – as Mayor of Glastonbury – with Michael Eavis and Charles Hazlewood during the Last Bank Standing ‘Jerusalem’ Flash Mob in 2016.

Councillor Jon Cousins, Green Mayor of Glastonbury, pays tribute to Denise Michell, Archdruidess, Elder Ovate and Bard, ‘Fairy Queen’, and twice Green Mayor of Glastonbury.

First published in ‘Green World’ magazine – Wednesday, 24th June 2020.


Denise Michell 11th August 1952 – 22nd June 2020

Denise Michell (née Price) was born on 11th August 1952, and spent her early years in Barkingside, Redbridge.

She came to live in Glastonbury in 1997 and was an Archdruidess of the Glastonbury Order of Druids from 1998 to 2007 – subsequently becoming a founding member, Elder Ovate and Bard of the Gorsedh Ynys Witrin, Glastonbury’s Bardic College.

In April 2007, Denise married the celebrated author John Michell (1933–2009) at a ceremony held in Glastonbury’s St Benedict’s Church. It was a long courtship – they had first met 34 years earlier, when she was 21 and he was 40.

Partly in response to the government’s proposal that Hinkley Point C in Somerset would be one of the eight newly commissioned Nuclear Power Stations, Denise joined Glastonbury’s Green Party branch in 2010, and became an active campaigner encouraging local people to register to vote.

As Archdruidess, her profile helped to build support, and the local branch experienced a ‘Green Surge’ in 2010/11, which resulted in four Greens being elected to Glastonbury Town Council in May 2011 – Denise being one of the ‘Green Four’.

During their first term, Glastonbury’s Green Councillors implemented a Glastonbury ‘Green’ Charter for the Environment, installed solar panels onto the roof of the Town Hall, declared Glastonbury a Frack Free Council, and resolved to oppose the building of Hinkley C Nuclear Power Station.

Denise as Mayor Glastonbury (2nd left) with, L-R: Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Molly Scott Cato, Cllrs Jon Cousins and Emma George (second and third Green Mayors of Glastonbury respectively).

As Glastonbury’s Green surge continued, reflected by the national surge in membership from late 2014 onwards (turning Greens into the third largest party in England and Wales), Denise was re-elected in 2015 to become the 316th (and first ‘Green’) Worshipful Mayor of Glastonbury. Her first Mayoral resolution was to join the international anti-nuclear movement ‘Mayors For Peace’, a membership that all succeeding Mayors of Glastonbury have maintained.

As a councillor, Denise was a champion of Glastonbury’s ‘Beltane’ May Day festivities and the town’s annual Frost Fayre. Indeed, when she was first elected, she discovered that the 2011 Frost Fayre was in danger of being cancelled – and decided to take on the coordination of the event, helping to turn the Frost Fayre into a huge success, which has gone from strength to strength – so well attended and popular in 2019 that hundreds of would-be visitors were not even able to enter the town.

In their second term, Glastonbury Greens expanded to seven elected councillors, and took minority control of the town council. During this time, they banned the use of glyphosate on all public land – moving to a non-toxic weed control system, became the first council in Somerset to be ‘single-use plastic free’, and the first to declare a Climate Emergency – pledging to make council operations carbon-neutral by 2030.

In 2019, being returned as a town councillor for a third term (as part of nine Green town councillors – a majority!), Denise joined the small company of people who have been twice elected Mayor of Glastonbury.

During her second Mayoralty, she oversaw Glastonbury becoming the second ‘Earth Protector Town’ in the World – calling for an Amendment to The Rome Statute to include a Law against Ecocide.

When asked recently what it was like to be a councillor, Denise replied: “Working within the community I listen closely to what people would like to see happen in our town now and in the future, and – as a councillor – I can help bring change for the benefit of everyone in our community.”

Glastonbury’s ‘Green Four’ with Caroline Lucas at Hinkley Point in 2012 L-R: Jon Cousins, Caroline Lucas, Alyson Black, Denise, and Ian Forster.

Denise passed away in the early hours of Monday 22nd June 2020. News of her death was announced by her children Zig, Zoe, Rowan and Leah on social media: “It is with broken hearts that we must share with you that our mum has completed her journey here on Earth and is now on her way to join the ancestors in the stars. Thank you to each and every one of you who has been a part of our mum’s life adventures. We ask that you light a candle, say a prayer and send her on her way with love. Love and light. May there be peace in the sacred grove.”

Personally, I am devastated by the passing of my dear friend. Denny was an incredible person, who loved Glastonbury to the core of her being and did so much for our community. She will be greatly missed. On behalf of Glastonbury Council and the local Green Party, I send my deepest condolences to her family.


Click here to view the obituary in ‘Green World’.

22
Jun 20

Cllr. Denise Michell, RIP.

It is with great sadness that Glastonbury and Street Green Party announce the passing of Cllr. Denise Michell – Green Mayor of Glastonbury 2015/16/19/20.

The sad news of Denise’s death was posted this morning on Facebook by her children: Zig, Zoe, Rowan, Leah:

It is with broken hearts that we must share with you that our mum has completed her journey here on Earth and is now on her way to join the ancestors in the stars 🌟
Thank you to each and every one of you who has been a part of our mum’s life adventures ❤️
We ask that you light a candle, say a prayer and send her on her way with love ❤️
Love and light ❤️ May there be peace in the sacred grove ❤️

Glastonbury’s current Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins, said:  “I am devastated by the passing of my dear friend and fellow councillor Denise Michell. Denny was an incredible person, who loved Glastonbury to the core of her being and did so much for our community. She will be greatly missed. On behalf of Glastonbury Council, I send my deepest condolences to her family.”

23
May 20

Glastonbury’s Virtual Summer Solstice!

Glastonbury Town Council has worked with Mendip District Council, Glastonbury Information Centre, Avon and Somerset Police, Redpath Creative, and Glastonbury Festival to create and promote a VIRTUAL Summer Solstice event on Sunday, 21st June.

Please join us as we go live to stream the Summer Solstice sunrise from Glastonbury.

Streaming will star from 0430 BST (0330 GMT) so we capture the sunrise at 0455 BST (0355 GMT). Following this we will have a multifaith ceremony and family activities, including singing, crafts and music.

0500 BST (0400 GMT): Salutation to the Dawn and A Ceremony of Light
We invite you to light a candle, wherever in the world you are, with the Glastonbury Unity Candle and the Silent Minute for Peace. Filmed and streamed by Kevin Redpath. With the Green Mayor of Glastonbury – Councillor Jon Cousins, Mistress of Ceremonies – Morgana West, Glastonbury Town Crier – David Greenway, and Elder Bard of Avalon – Lisa Goodwin.