Sunday, May 14, 2006

Walking Festival, Compost, First Surgery, Vivisection

The Lewisham Walking Festival kicked off this weekend and runs until 28th May - loads of walks planned, including one around Ladywell led by Mike. For further details see:
Lewisham Walking Festival.

I did my first surgery at Lewisham Library yesterday - at least it was one scheduled by the previous councillors and we thought one of us should go along just in case any one turned up. Someone did come along, so it's as well I did. We will be finalising details of our new surgery times and venues soon. General feeling seems to be that one or two surgeries a month are useful, but that street surgeries can be more effective for reaching more people, so we will probably do a combination of both. We're thinking of having a surgery in the Old Bothy on Hilly Fields on the second Saturday of the month, to coincide with the farmer's market, but details tbc very soon. I was also wondering whether to try a weekday evening surgery instead of just Saturdays. Would like a good venue in the middle of Ladywell, but finding somewhere with disabled access hasn't been easy. Any suggestions welcome.

Mike was helping with the clean up of the Ravensbourne River today, but I took some time catching up in my garden which has been suffering months of neglect while canvassing. I marked the end of National Compost Awareness Week with a ceremonial opening of my compost bin, to discover there was loads of excellent compost at the bottom - enough to last me through the summer hopefully. Campaigning for a green waste collection was part of Lewisham Green's local election manifesto and hopefully it will move forward as the mayor also pledged to introduce such a scheme. Nevertheless, composting what you can in your garden, if you have one, is still greener than all your kitchen waste being collected (less carbon emissions). You can either make your own compost bin or buy one at a subsidised (by the council) price from Shannon's Garden Centre for just £10 ( the council subsidises the cost) : composting .

Got a new local magazine through the door today - SE4U, which looks good. Lots of local info as well as the obligatory estate agents' ads. It's going to be published monthly.

Greens won their first seat on Scarborough Council in a by-election on Thursday, bringing the number of seats we've won in the past week to 21, and a total of 92 councillors on principal authorities in England. We've made excellent progress in these elections, but infuriatingly the media prefers to devote column after column to the BNP, even though we have double the number of councillors they do.

Other events in the news: I'm very worried by the announcement that the new environment minister is "open-minded on nuclear power" BBC article - it sounds like code for "pro-nuclear" and more compliant than his predecessor, Margaret Beckett, who I suspect has been removed from the post due to her lack of enthusiasm for nuclear power. Hope I'm proved wrong. BTW, did you know that there is a consultation on the council website about putting a wind turbine on Laurence House in Catford? wind turbine consultation. I think it's a great idea, and is a good start even if it's only a very tokenistic fraction of what's needed.

I'm also not impressed with the prime minister using the behaviour of a small minority in the animal rights movement as an excuse to dismiss the whole case against vivisection and portray the big pharma companies as the innocent victims. PM criticised over animal testing. I'm as disgusted as anyone else at the actions of a few extremists in using violence, intimidation and even digging up a grave, all of which are clearly counter-productive to the cause, but we need to shift away from focussing on these few and start looking seriously at alternatives to animal testing, which already exist. The government lacks the political willpower to reduce the number of animal tests - it seems it's much easier to attack animal rights campaigners than to face up to the might of big business. The Green Party has excellent animal rights policies, which can be viewed at: Green Party policy on animal rights


Don in CA said...

I just now stumbled on your recent post about compost ("compost" was my search word). I'm a 74 yr-old retired physician living in La Jolla, CA, and have been composting kitchen waste for more years than I can remember. First I buried it in the yard along a back fence, and that worked splendidly. By the time I had reached the end of the row, the first spot was ready to take a fresh deposit, and so on.Later I started using the black plastic bins made in Canada (where i'm from originally) and that seems to work well, too---it never fills, as the pile keeps shrinking as it matures. A few years ago I bought a "Compost Tumbler" to take yard clipping (grass, leaves) and although it didn't work as advertised (no real "hot' center) it slowly turns to usable compost. We keep a large plastic pail under the kitchen sink, and everything useable goes it there until it's overflowing---then I take it to the bin. My problem is that noi matter how many people I tell about this easy way to reduce garbage volumes, no one has adopted the habit--at least among my family, friends and neighbors. Too bad we don't have a viable Green Party in the US. Good luck in all your endeavours!

Andrew Brown said...

On composting: the council gave away almost 1,000 compost bins last year, and may still be doing so (as well as subsidising the bins at Shannon's Garden Centre).

Of course the council already has a green waste service for all those things that won't go in a compost bin. But it is a service you have to pay for at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew
Thanks for your comment - didn't know about the free compost bins. Is it right that the green bag scheme has been so underused in the past that they have sometimes sent taxis round to collect them?!

Andrew Brown said...

Taxis for bags full of green waste that might have been sat outside for a couple of weeks...

I'd like to meet the taxi driver who said yes to that call, but I suspect I wouldn't want to travel in his cab.

However, it is true that trying to convince the lovely people of Lewisham that they should use the green bags has been less successful than I would have hoped. That said, it allowed me to introduce the service at a time when I didn't have additional resources to spend in this service area. It was a compromise that I don't regret.

Sue, I wonder if you'll be supporting the Steve Bullock's budget if it includes provision for free at the point of use green waste service?