First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, March 2020.

After Brexit

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary has warned that the Labour Party will not accept lower animal welfare and environmental standards post Brexit. We have been protected by EU laws until now. The idea of eating chlorinated chicken horrifies the British public! Labour will work to ensure that our farmers are not undercut by lower US standards.

Bus travel

“Local bus services can be a lifeline to older and vulnerable residents and can also play a key role in tackling congestion and reducing greenhouse gases” (Transport 2020).

The latest figures show that buses in England travelled 1.18 billion miles in 2018/19 – down from 1.33 billion in 2008/09. Passenger journeys have also dropped by 318 million between 2018/19 and 2008/09. Fares are up 71 per cent in real terms since 2005.

The Department of Transport has announced a £170 million fund is being allocated to improve bus services and make journeys greener. Labour says: “It is good that the Government recognises the importance of buses in connecting communities and helping them to access local services. This funding is a step in the right direction.”

However, we are urging the Government to go further and plug the £700 million annual funding gap councils face n providing the concessionary fares scheme. Concessionary bus fares provide free. off-peak travel for older and disabled residents. Funding this gap would help to protect local routes we value and reverse the decline in bus services.

Soft Justice

Ministry of Justice statistics have shown:

  • someone carrying a blade has yet to be jailed after 21 convictions for the offence;
  • another offender committed 33 assaults before being jailed for his 34th.

Such cases give rise to the claim that our justice system is so soft that criminals feel they can carry on committing crimes with impunity. opponents argue that a non-custodial route whereby fewer people are sent to prison takes the pressure off a prison system which is very much struggling to cope.

However, the Chairman of the Police Federation believes: “There are far too many slaps on the wrist and not enough adequate justice”.

Taking away from Peter to pay Paul

The Conservative Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources boasts that “we are due to receive the best financial settlement from central government for around a decade”.

However, this has only been made possible as the government is apparently reducing  the financial support for District Councils.

Planting more trees

In 2019 about 1,400 hectares of trees were planted in England, against a 5,000 hectares Government target – spending less than £1 per person per year. Part of recent problems has been subsidies to farmers that prioritise intensive food production against environmental gains. The Woodland Trust sees new tree planting as one of the three main priorities along with the protection of existing sites and restoration of degraded woodland. We need “the right tree in the right place”. Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines. Like great carbon sinks, woods and forests absorb atmospheric carbon and lock it up for centuries.

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