Tag: greenparty

Michael Cope: Green Party – Llanishen

We’ve invited all the local election candidates to complete this questionnaire so you know more about the people asking for your vote on the 4th of May. We’re also compiling a list of their websites and social media accounts so you can follow them and get in touch if you have any questions.


Michael Cope

Name – Michael Cope
Party – Green Party
Ward – Llanishen
Website
Twitter  –
Facebook
How can people get in touch with you? – Through email at michaelcope@walesyounggreens.uk.

About You

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in Llanishen and with the exception of four years at university have lived here all my life-22 years in total. I love living in Cardiff and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I’m a passionate writer and my ultimate dream is to get that first novel published. I’m an avid tennis fan, a reader of high fantasy fiction and a proud geek. Having lived in Llanishen for so long, I feel it is now time to throw my hat into the ring and run for Council myself. I joined the Green Party because of its strong history of local activism and because it is the only party to put the environment at the heart of policy making. I believe in getting more young people and members of other underrepresented groups involved in politics and support any efforts to increase engagement.

What are the biggest issues in your ward?

One of the biggest issues facing residents (and the issue which inspired me to stand for council) is the cuts which have been and are currently being made to public services in Llanishen. The running of Llanishen Leisure Centre has been outsourced and library services and social care services are under pressure. We need to start putting money back into these vital public services, which bring important long term benefits to people’s health and wellbeing and save money in the long run. One issue which has only recently started to make the news, but urgently needs more attention from policy makers is air pollution. Air pollution has potentially harmful and even life limiting effects and children are particularly vulnerable. We need a cross party effort to tackle this issue, and Green Party councillors need to be a part of it. The state of Llanishen’s shopping streets must be improved, particularly areas such as the Llangranog Road shops, which have fallen into decay and become blighted with litter. Finally, we in Llanishen are lucky to have a lot of green space. We need to make sure that our green space is not only protected from development, but properly maintained so that it can be enjoyed by us and by future generations.

What’s your favourite place in Cardiff and why?

Roath Park and the pleasure gardens hold special memories for me. I remember feeding the ducks with my parents when I was a child and playing tennis on the courts every Sunday as a teenager. In Llanishen, I love the tree lined grassy verges between Thornhill Road, Cilgerran Crescent and the bottom of Templeton Avenue. In spring, they come alive with daffodils and crocuses. I walk past them most days and they give a constant reminder of how important our green spaces are and why I’m doing what I’m doing.

What do you think should be done to improve engagement in politics?

The most important and most ambitious step would be to introduce a fully proportional voting system for Welsh Assembly and local council elections. Many people are reluctant to vote as they feel that their vote is worthless and cannot change anything. Proportional representation would mean that every vote would count, whoever it is for, and it would inspire people who rarely vote to do so often. Compulsory political education needs to be introduced into school curriculums. Young people need to be equipped with knowledge about how the Welsh political system works, as well as the critical thinking skills necessary to make an informed choice at the ballot box. The voting age should be lowered to sixteen. Politics is a two way street. If you don’t engage with the people you represent or want to represent, you have no right to their support or vote. We need to start engaging with residents in a meaningful way. It has long been Green Party policy to devolve decisions to the lowest local level possible. I would like to see Cardiff Council try this by, for example, holding meaningful public consultations on Cardiff Council budgets. If elected, I will push for them to do this. Finally, I would like to say that I disagree with compulsory voting. All it does is massage turnout figures and does not attempt to engage with the reasons why many people don’t vote. Choosing not to vote is just as much a political decision as voting, and if politicians want to see the turnout figure increase, we must show that we are worth voting for.

What’s your favourite film?

I don’t have one. I’m not much of a film fan.

If You’re Elected

What will you do to improve your ward?

If elected, I will push the council to put money back into local services and to bring Llanishen Leisure Centre back under council control. I will challenge any attempt to sell off or build upon the green spaces we are lucky to have in our ward. I will call for more resources for park maintenance and litter collection. The Love Where You Live campaign should be extended to all wards and litter collections should run at all times of the year. I will do my best to make Llanishen one of the greenest, safest wards in Cardiff. I will provide strong scrutiny of council policy to ensure that it is the best it can be. Above all, I will be a constant voice for the residents of Llanishen. As a local resident myself, the decisions the council makes about Llanishen’s services, environment, roads, businesses, and buildings affect me too. I will not forget this, nor will I forget the people who elected me. Should the council make a decision which negatively affects Llanishen or its residents, I will fight the council all the way and stand by the people who are not just fellow residents, but friends and neighbours too.

How will you communicate with residents in your ward?

I will hold regular, monthly surgeries in safe, accessible locations, with the option to hold them more frequently if demand is high. I will produce printed newsletters to update residents as to what the Green Party is doing but also use social media to reach as many people as possible. I will spend as much time as possible doing ward work and casework and will be available through email and phone. I will also regularly knock doors and canvass opinion on our progress and council policy. The Green Party prides itself on being as accessible and approachable as possible and I will carry that philosophy through to my dealings with fellow residents. The Cardiff Green Party and Wales Green Party have active Facebook and Twitter pages which can be used to reach us. I will also work with the other three Llanishen councillors to make sure that residents can see us as a group.

What issues that affect the whole city would you like to get involved in?

I would like to take an active role in solving the city’s homelessness crisis, a crisis which will only get worse if action is not taken now. I would like to work with those who are responsible for housing to make sure that more social housing is created and we can provide safe, stable homes for all people who are homeless or in crisis. As a Green Party member, the environment is close to my heart and I would become personally involved in any effort to make Cardiff as green and sustainable a city as possible. I would also like to make sure that local services and social care services are protected from budget cuts as much as possible.

Final Comments

What would you change about Cardiff and why?

Cardiff is a wonderful city and a great place to live. We need to be proud of it and take care of it. I would like to see Cardiff become a place of safety and support for all who live in it, a place where nobody feels like they aren’t valued or that their needs aren’t being met. I would like to see a greater emphasis on providing a city which future generations can take pride in. We need to make sure that Cardiff can withstand the challenges of the future and come out of them stronger.

Any final comments?

I hope that everyone in Llanishen votes Green on May 4th. The Green Party is a party of the future. We are forward looking. We provide a truly environmental outlook on policy and are dedicated to protecting green spaces and strengthening public services. But whatever your political opinion, I urge everyone to vote on May 4th. Cardiff Council matters, and the policies made there will impact upon all our lives. We need to make sure that the people making those policies are the right people and that they have their residents best interests at heart. Thank you for reading my answers and thanks to Jack for providing all candidates with this platform.

Candidate Comments: Chris von Ruhland – Green Party

Guest post by Chris von Ruhland

Chris von Ruhland is the Green Party’s constituency candidate for Cardiff North and regional list candidate for South Wales Central.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, My Cardiff North.

The Earth

Will our grandchildren inherit our IKEA furniture?

Probably not.

While it is of moderately good quality, it is unlikely to last that long due to wear and tear or, more likely, being discarded in favour of something newer.

We are constantly bombarded by advertisements that show happy smiling people dancing around their latest acquisition, often in living rooms the size of the ground floor of most people’s houses. The adverts are designed to make us feel inadequate and intimate that our lives will be so much better if we buy the latest sofa, flat screen, or car. It is, of course, a fantasy. But is clearly works, otherwise companies wouldn’t do it.

The pleasure we derive from our latest purchase is transitory, however. The novelty wears off and we find ourselves hankering after something else, because what we have purchased will soon be deemed outdated. But fear not; there is always something else that we can be persuaded to buy.

And so we carry on, working longer hours than we would like, to earn money to buy stuff that doesn’t last, that we don’t really want and certainly don’t need, in the hope that it will satisfy us (it won’t). This is consumerism.

Fun, isn’t it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to do this?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could spend more time with our friends and families, enjoying ourselves and just being human. We could have more time to cultivate our creativity. We could be a lot happier.

Wishful thinking?

Actually no.

Chris von RuhlandWhat if we designed things to last and be easily repairable? We wouldn’t need to keep replacing them. If we lived healthier lifestyles, we wouldn’t need such a huge and expensive health service. If we were encouraged to use local businesses rather than chain stores and multinationals, money would be more likely to stay in the area rather than being squirreled away in tax havens. If we built houses to be energy positive, like Cardiff University’s Solcer house, we wouldn’t need to spend so much on bills, and people wouldn’t have to choose between eating and heating. If we had a decent public transport system, our roads would be less congested and it would be much safer to cycle, so we wouldn’t need cars so much; many of us might even be able to do without them altogether.

So we wouldn’t need so much money. So we wouldn’t need to work so much. So we’d have more time to spend on things that actually mattered.

And we’d reduce our consumption of the earth’s finite resources.

Because our current lifestyle is wrecking the planet. If everybody on earth lived as we do in Wales, we’d need 2.5 planets. Which we don’t have. So we can’t carry on as we are. Or we can, and leave the consequences for our children and our grandchildren to sort out. And the very poorest people will suffer the consequences of our inaction the most. Not to mention the countless species that will go extinct. The future is very much in our hands.

It’s unreasonable to expect everybody to suddenly change to a more sustainable lifestyle by themselves, even though some do. What is needed is leadership, and there is precious little of this at the moment.

All too often, politicians have to balance the demands of the electorate with limited budgets, all within one term of office. Perhaps it is not surprising that they have little time to give thought to long terms plans. Or perhaps it is. After all, their long term political survival, their desire to see their particular political philosophies realised depend upon them.

But that is what we need; a vision of Wales that goes far beyond the four years to the next election. A vision of Wales in 50 years’ time and beyond. For these are the timescales that we need to think in terms of. Which is why we need Greens in the Senedd. A central theme of green philosophy is to live in such a way that does not compromise future generations; to leave the planet in at least as good a state, if not better than we received it. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our descendants.

So when you come to vote in the elections on the 5th of May, I’d like you to ask yourselves the following question: what sort of world do you want your children and grandchildren to inherit?

By Chris von Ruhland

twitter.com/chrisvonruhland

Candidate Comments: Chris von Ruhland – Green Party

Guest post by Chris von Ruhland

Chris von Ruhland is the Green Party’s constituency candidate for Cardiff North and regional list candidate for South Wales Central.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, My Cardiff North.

Chris 3

The NHS in Wales is at crisis point

Working conditions for many health workers are becoming intolerable. Clinicians are leaving to escape the ‘overwhelming bureaucracy, paperwork and rationing of healthcare’; numbers leaving the profession are approaching those that are newly trained. Nursing staff skip breaks, work late and feel unable to deliver the care they would like. Nearly a quarter are looking to leave healthcare altogether, and fewer than half would recommend it as a career.

Coupled with this, over 50% of adults in Wales are overweight or obese, and the number of people with diabetes is expected to reach 300,000 in less than 10 years. Within 15 years, the number of people aged 75 or over will have increased by 76 per cent, and older people are more likely to have at least one chronic condition, such as diabetes, dementia or arthritis, and have more as their age increases. Moreover, problems associated with mental ill health are increasing, and there is still a considerable stigma attached to mental illness; self harm remains a significant problem in Wales. In addition, Wales has some of the poorest areas in Europe; inequality in wealth matches inequality in health, and inequality in Wales is widening. There is an increasing gap in the incidence and survival rates for cancer between the richest and poorest areas. Here in Cardiff there is already a 10 year difference in life expectancy between those living in the Cyncoed and those people living in Butetown.

Chris von Ruhland profile graphicMore money is clearly needed to meet not only existing costs, but those that are anticipated as a consequence of increased lifespan, as well as those that arise due to improvements in technology and our understanding of disease, even though these lead to better detection and treatment. With a £1.5bn cut in Welsh Assembly funding from Westminster, the Welsh NHS will be put under even greater strain. Since Wales receives a block grant from Westminster, increasing funding for the NHS will mean less money for other areas of responsibility such as education, transport, housing and the environment.

The simple solution is for everybody to pay more taxes, since a good quality public healthcare system is a hallmark of a civilised society. I have no objection to paying more taxes, indeed I’d be happy to do so if I was assured that wealthy individuals and corporations were doing likewise, rather than hiding their money away in tax havens. But simply treating ill health is not a long term solution.

Greens in the Senedd would much place greater emphasis on promoting health and wellbeing, and the prevention of disease. We believe that Wales should adopt Health 2020, the new European health policy framework which sets out a vision:

 “to significantly improve the health and well-being of populations, reduce health inequalities, strengthen public health and ensure sustainable people- centred health systems that are universal, equitable, sustainable and of high quality.”

We need to plan our towns and cities to be healthier places to live, which encourage walking and cycling and, together with an integrated public transport system, reduce our dependence on cars and make our streets safer for children to play. We need to discourage out-of-town developments and retail parks in favour of easily accessible shops and services; these in turn support local economies, employ more people and strengthen communities. We need to provide people with the means to improve their own health. To its credit, the Welsh Assembly introduced a National Exercise Referral Scheme, but this was applied to people who already suffered from ill health. Regular health check-ups might be a better way of improving our health. We are already used to the idea of visiting our dentist once or twice a year to have our teeth checked; why not do the same for the rest of our bodies? Simple metrics like blood pressure, weight and diet would allow trends in our health to be identified early so that advice and help could be given before we end up in hospital. While the initial set-up cost might be high, it would be more than compensated by the long term benefits to people and society.

While the government in Westminster is perpetrating an ideologically driven attack on the poorest, the disabled and those most in need of help, here in Wales, we can do things differently. We can focus our attention on addressing the health and social inequalities by helping those in need, not those in greed. But first we need to shake up the Senedd.

By Chris von Ruhland

twitter.com/chrisvonruhland

Candidate Comments: Chris von Ruhland – Green Party

Guest post by Chris von Ruhland

Chris von Ruhland is the Green Party’s constituency candidate for Cardiff North and regional list candidate for South Wales Central.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, My Cardiff North.

Photo of Chris von Ruhland

When I first visited Cardiff, over 35 years ago, what first impressed me was Bute Park and Sophia Gardens; magnificent public green spaces right in the middle of the city and flanking its major river. This contrasted sharply with the city from which I had come, namely London. I was informed that Cardiff had a greater proportion of green spaces than any other European city.

When I moved to Cardiff a few years later to study, and finally to live and work, I had many opportunities to explore it further. What struck me, in particular, was that the edges of the city, to the north and to the west at least, were clearly visible from many parts of Cardiff. I had lived for the past 2 years in southern Plymouth and, standing on the Hoe and looking north, all that I could see was a hillside covered in houses, like a huge wave of brick and stone. This contrasted sharply with the view that I now beheld. Cardiff was clearly a very special city.

The reason that the land to the north of the M4 has remained undeveloped is, primarily, topography; there are flatter places to build. Another reason is that the M4 motorway forms a barrier, albeit an unnatural one, to Cardiff’s northern expansion. There has also been considerable reluctance on the part of the city council, over many years and political hues, to release the land for development.

Bluebells on the Wenallt

While this area has been designated a green wedge under the local development plan, it only confers protection until 2026. Residents, councillors, local MPs and AMs are unanimous in their support for a Green Belt, that would protect this area for future generations, yet Cardiff Council failed to convince the planning inspectors.

Chris von Ruhland profile graphicThe inspectors were subject to the requirements of Planning Policy Wales, which has existed since 2002 and is now in its 8th edition. It is surprising, therefore, that any objections to the green belt proposal were not predicted and adequately addressed, particularly when the two institutions are a stone’s throw apart. Don’t people talk to one another?

The problem is that there appears to be no long term vision of how Wales in general, and Cardiff in particular will look in several decades’ time. Without this, there can be no meaningful short term planning; it is purely a reaction to existing circumstances. Cities, in general, become worse places as they get bigger; people must travel further for work, leisure and shopping, traffic congestion becomes a daily grind and air pollution becomes a serious problem. Cardiff seems to be on this trajectory, having become a victim of its own success. The demand for housing has never been greater and large areas of what remains of the green spaces that surround the city have been earmarked for development, with little apparent thought given to the necessary infrastructure requirements.

Such a laissez faire attitude will not protect the remaining green spaces and Cardiff is likely to expand inexorably, merging with Caerphilly to the north and Barry to the west; indeed, westward expansion into the Vale of Glamorgan was proposed many years ago to bring Cardiff airport into the city boundary. Fortunately, this madcap scheme was shelved.

In the city, we are constantly subjected to the sharp angles of buildings and, increasingly, great swathes of bland grey concrete or cladding; little wonder that some take it upon themselves to decorate these surfaces with graffiti/ urban art, depending upon your viewpoint. The natural and rural environment provide a necessary relief from these assaults on our senses. What is important, I think, is not just having open countryside so close to the city, but being able to see it, to know it is there. It defines its boundary. To lose this would be a travesty.

If we are to protect what we value, then we need to plan long-term, and much longer term than we have become  used to. Greens do this as a matter of course, which is why their voices are so desperately needed in the Senedd. What should be a place of vibrant and diverse political debate has become rather staid, with one party permanently in power. Little wonder that less has been achieved than we might expect. We need to shake up the Senedd.

By Chris von Ruhland

twitter.com/chrisvonruhland

My Daily Cardiff North – 16 Dec 2015

My Daily Cardiff North logo