Winning free bus travel for under 18s – UK Green news round up issue 50
Scottish Greens win free bus travel for under 18s
The Scottish Green Party achieved a major victory this week. As part of its negotiations with the SNP led Scottish government, the party secured free bus travel for under 18s, intended to be rolled out by 2021. The party claims this could save some college students over £1,000 per year.
Scottish Greens’ co-leader Patrick Harvie heralded this as “transformational” step. He said:
Free bus travel for young people is a transformational step towards tackling the climate emergency. This scheme will benefit young people starting college and families, some of whom stand to save thousands of pounds a year, and encourage whole generations of public transport users.
Buses are the backbone of local public transport and the key to employment and training opportunities for so many of those starting out in life.
The move was also welcomed by Scottish Green Party activists. Peter McColl, Bright Green co-founder and former rector of Edinburgh university argued that free bus travel was a step towards a “new commons”:
We need to create a new commons where the things we rely on to live: housing, clean water, heat, transport, clean air and a working democracy are fundamental rights, not things to be allocated first to the rich.
For us, free public transport was just the first step on this journey.
Elsewhere in budget negotiations, Scottish Greens secured £95 million for local public services.
Brighton & Hove Greens secure £11 million for local investment
It wasn’t just Scotland that saw Greens delivering major policy victories this week. Brighton & Hove Green Party were at it too. The Green group on Brighton & Hove city council successfully amended the city’s budget to get £11 million in extra investment.
The amendment saw the council budget for:
- £3.9m to fund transport improvements in the city
- £2.6m for a new city-wide insulation programme, to provide warmer homes
- support for domestic violence services and youth work
These changes were described by Green group leader Phelim Mac Cafferty as the “building blocks of a Green New Deal”. He said:
I am delighted that our budget amendments were supported today. They will now change the Labour Council’s budget for the better. Our changes are the building blocks of a Green New Deal for Brighton and Hove, coupling environmental justice with social justice. We need this more than ever – as our city faces the monumental challenges of a spiralling climate emergency, an affordable housing crisis and continued cuts to public services.
Greens welcome court ruling on Heathrow expansion
This week saw a major turning point in the battle against airport expansion. Plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport was ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal as it would not comply with the UK’s obligations under the Paris climate agreement.
As expected, the ruling was welcomed by many Greens.
Green member of the London Assembly Caroline Russell described the ruling as “fantastic”:
This decision shows business as usual has no place in a climate emergency. Of course we cannot expand aviation in the middle of a climate crisis.
We are pleased the courts have upheld the will of Parliament on the need to tackle the climate emergency.
It’s fantastic this is the first time in the world the Paris Agreement has been used as the basis for a ruling.
Green MP Caroline Lucas also welcomed the decision, but slammed the government as “cowardly” for not choosing to scrap the plans itself:
The Court of Appeal has made the decision that the government was too cowardly to make itself. Heathrow’s expansion, or any airport expansion, is not compatible with climate science. It’s not even compatible with the UK’s own climate targets.
And Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry called the ruling “the right conclusion”:
The right conclusion on Heathrow at last. Bigger airports have no place in a world facing a climate emergency.
The current Mayor’s support for Gatwick expansion looks like dinosaur stuff now. If you want a real Green Mayor who will stand up against all new runways, I’m ready. https://t.co/ILkqniVI2X
— Sian Berry (@sianberry) February 27, 2020
Amelia Womack calls for long term action on flooding
With storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge hitting the UK in recent weeks, extreme weather has been in the headlines. One of the impacts of the storms has been the widespread flooding that has hit parts of the country.
Green Party of England and Wales deputy leader Amelia Womack attributed the increase in extreme weather events as an effect on climate change. She also called for long term action to tackle flooding.
We can keep pouring concrete and building barriers, but the water will always find a way over as extreme weather gets worse and worse. What we need is better land management in the uplands, rewilding our countryside to make our environment more absorbent and resilient.
Above all, we need to decarbonise by 2030, taking real climate action which stops our winters getting wetter and wetter. There’s no doubt about it – this is climate change, and it’s not just at our door, it’s in our living rooms. Only a Green New Deal can keep us on dry land.
Liam Gallagher reiterates support for Green Party
In the 2019 General Election, one of the more surprising endorsements for the Greens came from Oasis star Liam Gallagher. This week, he reiterated his support.
In an interview with NME, the musician praised the Greens for talking about “real issues”.
Young Greens host national event to “resist Tory rule”
The General Election is now two months behind us, and the Tories are sitting on a comfortable majority. But the Young Greens of England and Wales aren’t waiting until the next election to fight for a better country.
This Sunday, the Young Greens hosted a “national fightback event” aiming to build capacity to “resist Tory rule”. The event saw a range of speakers, workshops and discussions, focussed around building a Green New Deal, resisting austerity, and winning change within local government.
Young Greens co-chair Thomas Hazell told Bright Green:
2019 brought us a rabidly right wing Tory government. 2020 has to bring the resistance. Part of that has to come from local government, and by getting radical, progressive, fighting Green and Young Green councillors elected to implement pioneering programmes of municipal socialism.
Today’s event was one of the first steps in delivering that.