Glastonbury & Street Green Party

Archive for Emma George

A Community Savings Bank for Glastonbury!

Do we want to create a new type of community-owned, mutual bank in the South West?  This was the question posed at a meeting held on 12th October in Glastonbury Town Hall – organised by the Last Bank Standing team with the Royal Society of Arts and the Community Savings Bank Association

Do you want to own a Community Bank?

Imagine if there was a bank dedicated to the South West that put the welfare of its local communities before profits.  A bank that helped local economies to grow by supporting all residents to upskill, regardless of their financial means.  A bank that empowered people to grow their ideas into thriving local businesses.  A bank that people trusted.  What might the South West look like in twenty or thirty years time?

During the evening, the RSA’s Director of Economics, Tony Greenham, discussed the economic and social case for regional banks, and explored the opportunities and challenges of creating a truly co-operative bank dedicated to the South West.

The need for regional banking was highlighted in the RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission, which highlighted that the lack of access to appropriate banking and financial tools can have a serious impact on people on low incomes or with a poor financial history, as well as on SMEs and micro businesses.

Incredibly, there are over 1.7 million adults in the UK that don’t have a bank account, while at the same time the pace of branch closures has accelerated rapidly, leaving 1,500 communities without a bank – as we are well aware here in Glastonbury!

Whilst already severe, these challenges are likely to become even more acute in the context of Brexit and upcoming reforms to local government financing.  There has never been a more urgent need to rebalance the UK economy.

The RSA are supporting the Community Savings Bank Association to create a UK-wide network of customer-owned, regional banks to serve the everyday financial needs of ordinary people, local community groups, and small and medium sized companies.

The Green Mayor of Glastonbury, Cllr Emma George, with the organisers of the South West Community Bank event. L-R: Paul Manning (Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce), Tony Greenham (RSA Director of Economics), the Mayor, Mark Hall (RSA Deputy Head of Engagement), and Kevin Redpath (Last Bank Standing).

The Glastonbury event explored the motivations and barriers in Glastonbury – and other local areas – to establishing this kind of bank, and the role that different stakeholders could play in catalysing the establishment of a South West bank.

To find out more, please visit the CSBA website HERE

 

Glastonbury elects 3rd Green Mayor!

On Tuesday, 9th May 2017, Cllr. Emma George became the 318th – and third successive Green – Mayor of Glastonbury!

Out-going Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins, proposed his Deputy for the position as the final motion of his Mayoralty, telling the assembled Councillors and members of the public:  “It is with great pleasure that I propose Cllr Emma George for election to the role of Mayor of Glastonbury.  I feel that the election of the current Deputy Mayor to the highest office is something that is both seemly and worthy.”

Out-going Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins, proposes Cllr. Emma George as his successor.  photo: Claire Herbaux, Central Somerset Gazette.

Seemly because as Deputy Emma has been a great support to me in my year of office.  Joining me on many Civic Occasions, and representing Glaston admirably and capably when I could not.”

Worthy because time and again she has show real leadership and professionalism with regard to the Council’s business.”

May I remind Councillors of how she negotiated favourably with Weedingtech; has worked diligently on helping to develop the Youth Council; has worked closely with the Police and One Team to help address anti-social behaviour in the town; has chaired with great skill the Town Centre Working Group, and supported the various projects and campaigns that have evolved from this forum.”

Her contribution to the Council’s Staffing Committee and as Chair of the Communications Committee reflecting the expertise and experience in these related industries.”

Finally, I would like to say that the role of Mayor demands that we rise above the petty divisions of politics to represent the whole community; to truly encapsulate the role of First Citizen.”

This is something that Emma has fully achieved in her capacity as Deputy Mayor.  And so, without further ado – I recommend that this Council elects Cllr Emma George as the 318th Mayor of Glastonbury.”

Emma’s nomination was seconded by Conservative Councillor Steve Henderson.  There were no other nominations, and Emma was elected Mayor by a unanimous vote.

The new Mayor of Glastonbury reads the ‘Declaration of Acceptance of Office’. photo: Claire Herbaux, Central Somerset Gazette.

In her acceptance speech, she said: “I will make sure to do my best to represent you all.  Jon is a hard act to follow. He has been an absolute pleasure to work with.”

I know I am heading into this year with great people around me.”

A first for Glastonbury!
Emma’s first act as Mayor was to preside over the election of Liberal Democrats Councillor Denise Abbot as Deputy Mayor; a first for Glastonbury – as the positions of Mayor and Deputy Mayor have never been held by two women during one Mayoralty before!

Cllrs. Emma George and Denise Abbott enthroned as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Glastonbury. The first time that two women have sat at the top of table in the Council Chamber! photo: Claire Herbaux, Central Somerset Gazette.

As the third Green Mayor of Glastonbury, Emma follows Cllrs. Jon Cousins (2016-17) and Denise Michell (2015-16); a major achievement for the Green Party’s members and supporters in the South West.

On May the 4th, Vote for REAL CHANGE

Green Mayor & Deputy Open First Accounts With Last Bank Standing

When all the High Street Banks deserted Glastonbury, our amazing community got organised and campaigned against the closures; calling for one branch to remain – a ‘Last Bank Standing’.

That call, and all the hard work that went into the flash mobs, petitions, publicity, and protests has been answered.

The Nationwide Building Society moved one step closer to opening their branch this week when Phil Goodridge-Reynolds, the new Nationwide branch manager, helped Glastonbury Mayor Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor Emma George open the first current accounts in the run up to the branch opening.

Green Mayor, Jon Cousins said, “As Mayor of Glastonbury, I am absolutely delighted to join Deputy Mayor Emma George in opening the founding current accounts with Nationwide’s new Glastonbury branch.”

The Nationwide recently posted: “When the people of Glastonbury asked for a bank, it was a building society that answered and we’re looking forward to opening our new branch in the summer.”

Our new Glastonbury Nationwide will be located at 3 High Street, and work has now begun on designing your branch, which is expected to open by this summer.”

Leading the new Grade II listed Glastonbury branch is Phil Goodridge-Reynolds, branch manager and his newly recruited Customer Representatives; Rachael Butt, Adam Leitch and Sonia Love, who are now ready to accept new customers.

If you’d like to open a current account, you can do so online HERE
You can also book an appointment in Glastonbury Town Hall.
Just call 0800 554 1590 (Monday – Friday 9.30 am – 5 pm, or Saturday 9 am – 3 pm).

Nationwide are also offering Glastonbury residents the chance to share £200 when they recommend one of Nationwide’s current accounts to a friend!  For more information click HERE

Green Mayor meets Police Commander

Mayor of Glastonbury, Green Councillor Jon Cousins writes: On Wednesday 23rd November, I met with Chief Inspector Mark Edgington – Local Policing Commander for the Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s East Somerset Division – at Glastonbury Town Hall.

BACKGROUND
As with meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens in October, the background to meeting with the Chief Inspector has been my attempt to help address the increasing anti-social behaviour that Glastonbury’s community has been suffering – the intimidation, drunkenness, racial and verbal abuse, and open drug dealing that so many members of our community have raised with me – a situation which has escalated with an attempted murder on 14th September, followed by a second serious assault on 28th October – both incidents were stabbings; both occurred in broad daylight; both happening within yards of one of our schools…

IMPACT OF POLICE FUNDING CUTS:
The other background factor, which Sue Mountstevens had been very candid about, is the impact of the austerity funding cuts imposed by central government on the Police service as a whole, and the fact that Avon and Somerset has been intentionally ‘dampened’ – provided with less resources than other constabularies, resulting in £14 million ‘missing’ from the budget; which means 350 fewer officers, PCSOs and staff than the average!

'Disaster' worries as drugs service moves out of town CSG 6th October 2016'Disaster' worries as drugs service moves out of town – Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016

‘Disaster’ worries as drugs service moves out of town – Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016.

THE MEETING:
Mark Edgington came to the Town Hall with Inspector Mark Nicholson of Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Police Team, and they met with me and the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Emma George to explore the proposed options to help the situation in Glastonbury – resulting from my meeting with the PCC.

1) The deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street.
The Chief Inspector reiterating the message of the PCC – the Force has undergone major efficiency savings as a result of ‘Austerity’, and – in addition – will need to make further savings of £5½million… all of which has had, and will have, an understandable impact on resources and operations.

I observed that the biggest response I’ve received from Glastonbury residents was their concern around the lack of a visible police presence – and the feeling that this lack has contributed directly to the rise in the incidents and problems we are facing as a community.

This was something highlighted during my consultation in September, and, as a result, Cllr George and I had previously discussed the deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street with Inspector Nicholson and our local Police Team’s Sargent Slade.

Mark Edgington confirmed that under the Force’s new ‘Police & Crime Plan’ (2016-2020), Neighbourhood Policing was a priority; “meaning visibility on the streets.”

2) The developing a Street Pastor team.
We discussed the potential of a Street Pastor team to work as part of a multi-agency approach to addressing the anti-social behaviour. Mark Edgington was fully behind this initiative, and we agreed that this would be a useful option for the newly convened Glastonbury Multi-Agency Meeting to develop.

3) Crimestoppers.
Mark Edgington endorsed the PCC’s assertion that people who are worried about reporting crimes and incidents because they fear reprisals should use this anonymous, independent service – which is not part of the police.
Find out more about Crimestoppers HERE.

4) Volunteers for Special Constables.
Mark Edgington felt that there was merit in promoting the Special Constabulary in Glastonbury; enabling people who felt strongly about the situation to volunteer for the Force. I mentioned that Cllr George and I would be meeting with the Special Chief Inspector Roger Ball and Special Constabulary Co-ordinator Katie Hancock later that day.
Find out more about volunteering for the Special Constabulary HERE.

£1 per month to keep town safe? – the front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016

£1 per month to keep town safe? – the front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016.

5) The ‘Precept’ funding a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).
The final option we discussed was the potential for Glastonbury to fund an additional Police Community Support Officer for the town through the Parish Precept (the amount of the Council Tax that goes to Town and Parish Councils).

This is something I’ve encouraged residents to comment on – through the Central Somerset Gazette and via social media. Feedback has been largely positive, but with the specific condition that a PCSO paid for by Glastonbury would be on duty only in Glastonbury; providing a visible presence in the town – not constantly being called away to other areas.

Mark Edgington and Mark Nicholson confirmed that the Town Council could fund a dedicated Glastonbury PCSO – recalled that PCSO Mel Rowlands was originally funded as a Glastonbury specific support officer.

They confirmed that:
Although a PCSO does not have the power of arrest, they play a vital role, being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community – feeding intelligence to the Neighbourhood Team’s Police Officers.”

PCSOs can deal with vulnerable people and – with regard to the new Public Space Protection Orders – they have the power to issue dispersal notices and warnings.”

A key element of the PCSO role is to problem solve with partners as well as responding to calls for service. This is important as being a good problem solver means that our officers treat the cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. If a Glastonbury ‘One Team’ emerges from the current Multi-Agency Meetings, a new PCSO, paid for by Glastonbury, could undertake a co-ordinating role, helping to support the town’s areas of multiple deprivation.”

Several Town Councillors have wondered if a PCSO could assist with parking enforcement. Mark Nicholson confirmed that a PCSO can issue parking tickets to a car parked on a double yellow line if it is accompanied by an obstruction. The inspector went on to say, “PCSOs can issue tickets on behalf of other agencies (such as ‘NSL’) and I have an enquiry with them to see if that could be done for the Glastonbury PCSO.”

The Chief Inspector told us that “in terms of where a Glastonbury funded PCSO would start and finish their duty – what police station they book on and collect their equipment – I am unable to say with any certainty, but for the time being they would start at Street.” (N.B. Glastonbury Town Council may be able to provide an alternative ‘start and finish’ location for the new PCSO in Glastonbury).

Whilst Chief Inspector said that, in exceptional circumstances – “if there was a danger to life and limb and no other officer was available” – he would need to call away a PCSO to another area, he guaranteed that:

  • If a new PCSO is being paid for by Glastonbury, they will be working in Glastonbury for their tour of duty; not servicing other towns.”
  • A new PCSO paid for by Glastonbury would be in addition to the current Neighbourhood Police Team. We would not be looking to remove anyone already here.”
  • If the Town Council decided to fund a new PCSO, the Avon & Somerset Constabulary would provide a 30% abatement of the Cost Recovery Total, so essentially the Glastonbury would fund the Total Direct Cost.”

At the Town Council’s Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting on 29th November 2016, it was established that a Glastonbury funded Police Community Support Officer would add £11 to the Council Tax per band ‘D’ dwelling in Glastonbury – less than £1 per month.

Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury
Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
jonfcousins@hotmail.com

Search for solutions to problems that have been a blight on town – Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016

Search for solutions to problems that have been a blight on town – Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016.

Green Councillor co-ordinates Syrian refugee volunteers

Following the successful housing of two Syrian families in Frome earlier this year as part of the ‘Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme’, Mendip District Council recently sought to establish the viability of housing a couple of families in Glastonbury or Street.

A Steering Group was formed some weeks ago comprising members of the community from Glastonbury and Street along with Councillors from both Councils. As co-ordinator of the Steering Group, Glastonbury’s Green Councillor and Deputy Mayor Emma George is in the process of organising a core group of volunteers from the community who’d be prepared to offer tangible support to the families once they are here.

Call for volunteers to support Syrian families in Mendip.

Call for volunteers to support Syrian families in Mendip.

The type of voluntary support needed could involve anything from help with getting to and from hospital and doctor’s appointments to English language coaching – and everything in between – which will help the refugees acclimatise to life in the UK.

The Steering Group is looking for privately rented accommodation suitable for housing a family; preferably not in too isolated a location. Full support will be given to potential landlords/ladies both in advance and during the process.

Speaking about the situation to the local press, Cllr. George reported, “I am happy to say that Glastonbury Town Council is also fully supportive of the initiative. As you’d expect, initially, there will be a lot of assistance from the relevant statutory agencies – but the overall aim is to encourage the refugee families towards and independent life. First, however, the search is on for suitable properties in which to house the families.”

I am pleased to announce that we have located a potentially suitable property in Glastonbury and are keen to find another one, also in Glastonbury, so the two families are able to support each other closely from within the same community.”

Anyone who thinks they may know of such a property or landlord/lady, would like more information, or who is interested in volunteering as part of the re-housng group can contact Cllr. Emma George, on emmageorge17@gmail.com or via Glastonbury Town Council Office on 01458 831769.

Syrian refugee families will be coming to Glastonbury and Street area from SomersetLive, 5th December 2016

Association highlights GSGP achievements

The Association of Green Councillors (AGC) has highlighted Glastonbury & Street Green Party’s members in their national review of ‘Green Councillor Achievements – Changing the way councils think 2014-2016’

Glastonbury’s Green Councillors feature at the top of the list of ‘Firsts’ – “celebrating Green solutions are cheaper and better for people”.

Featuring the Green led Town Council’s ban of chemical herbicides – proposed by Cllr Alyson Black in June 2015 – and the Council’s subsequent adoption of non-toxic weed control, the AGC website states:  “Glastonbury Greens managed to implement what is thought to be the country’s first ban on chemical herbicides (for use on council owned areas). They introduced Foamstream, an eco-friendly herbicide as a replacement.”

To find out more please visit the AGC website HERE.

MEP Molly Scott Cato visits Glastonbury

South West MEP Molly Scott Cato visited Glastonbury recently to catch up with the town’s Green Mayor and Green Deputy Mayor, Cllrs Jon Cousins and Emma George.  It was a great photo-opportunity, and – obviously – a chance to discuss the impact of the Brexit vote, and Molly’s ideas about where she believes we need to go next.

Molly Scott Cato with Glastonbury’s Mayor, Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor, Emma George.

Molly Scott Cato with Glastonbury’s Mayor, Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor, Emma George.

Molly’s statement:

Many people are feeling a profound sense of sadness at the prospect of the UK, or England and Wales at least, leaving the EU.  I share this feeling and remain convinced that our future would be much safer and more prosperous inside the European Union.  This is not the result that Greens wanted; many activists and Green Party members worked tirelessly for many months to campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.  Personally, I worked as hard as I know how, travelling the region, making the arguments and listening to people on both sides.

People are understandably searching for reassurance and the referendum result has prompted a plethora of reactions and ideas about what we should do now.  Many people feel that the referendum was won on a false prospectus, and was a vote against something that had been turned into a bogeyman and with no alternative on offer.  I agree with this.

I was also profoundly shocked by the tactics of intimidation that were used during the campaign, and the inability of people to listen to views they did not share.  Being able to do so is the basis of democracy and I feel our most important task now is to stand together to defend democracy and the standards of public debate that we have traditionally enjoyed.  We must stand with communities across the UK to fight racism, xenophobia and discrimination; stronger communities can help heal the divisions caused by the referendum campaign.

I believe that the calls for an immediate rerun of the referendum would be undemocratic and add strength to the argument of those who say their voice is not heard.  However, this voice was only one of opposition, with no clear sense of what the alternative to EU membership might be.  I therefore believe that it would be valid to allow a second vote in the future, when it is clear what the alternative to EU membership would look like.

Although many of the debates during the referendum campaign were focused on European issues, underlying it was a power grab by senior politicians seeking to move our country radically to the right.  Since people from both right and left voted to leave the EU and there are a wide range of views about how we should proceed post-Brexit, the result has no weight in terms of what happens at Westminster.  Also, because the Prime Minister has resigned and Brexit will bring huge political upheaval, including the possible breakup of the United Kingdom, people should have a chance to have their say on the sort of country we want to build together.  This means that in my view an early general election before the end of year is inevitable.

Greens will be campaigning hard for democratic reform in the UK and for changing our outmoded electoral system to one that is truly representative.  We will explore possibilities for electoral alliances and pacts where we can agree on a progressive programme and commitment to proportional representation. 

I thank those of you who worked so hard to preserve our place in the Union that we value so much and I appreciate the very many messages of support and solidarity that you have sent.  These are dark days but by showing each other compassion and by standing together strongly in support of a revitalised democracy we can find a way to build a stronger and more peaceful country.”

To link to Molly’s website, click HERE

Mayor’s Tour of Glastonbury Festival

On Tuesday, 14th June, Glastonbury’s Mayor, Green Councillor Jon Cousins, visited Worthy Farm as the VIP guest of Michael Eavis in the annual ‘Mayor’s Tour’ of the Glastonbury Festival site.

Joining Jon on the tour were the Mayoress Lucia Forge and Deputy Mayor, Green Councillor Emma George.

Michael personally chauffeured the Mayor’s party around the festival in his Land Rover – stopping at various locations, including the world famous Pyramid Stage. Following the tour Michael treated his guests to lunch at ‘Goose Hall’.

Glastonbury Mayor Jon Cousins and Mayoress Lucia Forge, with Deputy Mayor Emma George (left) and Michael Eavis – at Worthy Farm, following their tour of the Glastonbury Festival site [photograph by Jason Bryant].

Talking about the visit later that day, Jon Cousins told GSGP’s Paul Lund: “It was absolutely wonderful to take the tour with Michael – what a privilege to see the site in the latter stages of preparation before the big event; to take a walk on the Pyramid Stage was a real highlight. It’s incredible how much hard work and dedication goes on behind the scenes by Michael and his amazing crew; it is huge, exciting, and marvellous – in the truest sense of the word – and that’s before the ticket holders arrive! No wonder Glastonbury is the most important and prestigious festival of the year. As Mayor, I know that Glastonbury is rightfully proud that our festival is the best in the world.”

Foamstream, a Green alternative to glyphosate!

In 2015 – following a resolution made by Green Councillors Alyson Black and Emma George – Glastonbury became the first UK Council to ban traditional, chemical herbicides such as glyphosate.  This film looks at the alternative weed-control method that Glastonbury Town Council has chosen: Foamstream.

Glastonbury Town Council’s resolution to ban chemical herbicides and use a plant-based alternative has been used as an example by both Bristol City Council and Shaftesbury Town Council in their moves to change from chemical herbicides to more environmentally friendly solutions; the Green Councillor’s initiative has been praised by literally thousands of people on social media and Glastonbury’s story has featured in articles and publications.

If you would like your Council to ban chemical herbicides – please share and re-post this video.  Let’s show that there is a different way of doing things for the common good!

Town hails weed control after banning chemical from Horticulture Week (29 April 2016).