Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tal y fan walk

Off message but over Xmas, Gill and I went on a marvellous walk in North Wales. Tal y fan is the lowest mountain in Snowdonia at 2000ft (610m) and an ideal introduction to climbing mountains. It also follows an ancient Roman road, passes prehistoric monuments and a remote medieval church. It might be relatively easy compared to other Snowdonia mountains but it is not a walk to be attempted in bad weather if you are not experienced in using a compass.

The walk starts in the lovely village of Roewen with a steep vertical ascent along a former Roman military road. It is quite tough but the views get better and better as you go up. You pass ancient burial chambers and standing stones.

The summit of Tal y fan is steep and rocky which requires care but the views from the top are magnificent.  Since it was a little late in the day we cut the walk short by going off the suggested "pathfinder" route and headed across the ridge towards Conwy.

A herd of wild welsh mountain ponies ran past us. A fellow walker who passed by said these ponies were descendants of Roman horses who used to work in the local mines and quarries.

Going down the mountain back into Roewen was difficult since it was cold and slippery but we managed to keep upright.

This is a walk we will repeat again in a different season and will no doubt enjoy it as much then as we did last month. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why we need to build a new housing consensus for affordable and decent homes for all

  Why we need to build a new housing consensus for affordable and decent homes for all

(motion from UNISON Housing Association branch to the Greater London Regional Council AGM on Feb 1. If passed  it could also be submitted to UNISON National Delegate Conference in June) 

"The never ending UK housing crisis means that millions of workers ‎and their families live in expensive, overcrowded and insecure homes. 

Often these homes are long distances away from work or family and involve many hours of daily commutes.

Conversely UNISON research has shown many families have grown up children living with them not out of choice, but of necessity as they cannot afford to buy or rent a home of their own. 

Recently the  government have announced a number of high profile schemes and incentives to fix the housing crisis. All have failed.  

Homeownership is on a downwards spiral, increasingly numbers of people in work are reliant on housing benefit and the number of social housing homes available shrinks year by year.

The chief reason for this‎ housing failure is that there is no long a political consensus in the UK on the need for direct investment and subsidy in public housing. 

From 1945 to 1970's political parties‎ of all kinds used to compete on how many affordable homes they could build each year. 

This was because there was a widespread consensus that ‎it was the duty of the state to ensure that everyone was securely and safely housed. 

In order to build homes we must rebuild this consensus. 

This Regional Council resolves to call upon the Regional Council Officers  to campaign with other unions and residents to restore direct investment in public housing. To make the case that this is the only way to solve the housing crisis.

To ask our Labour Link to work to make a new housing consensus a top issue within the Labour party taking into consideration the following principles:-

  • Subsidy should be redirected from housing benefit being paid to landlords to building public homes.
  • Governments and councils must borrow to invest in a mass house building programme. Not only building homes but putting people back into work to build them and therefore pumping money back into the economy.
  • An increase in the supply of public homes would help bring down the cost of home ownership and make this a real option once again in expensive areas.
  • Not only should homes be well built, environmentally efficient, affordable and secure but to be in a decent condition. Public landlords including councils and housing associations must be accountable and democratic to all stakeholders including having a meaningful ‎resident involvement and include the recognition of trade unions.  

Chris Hanrahan UNISON NEC Candidate Police & Justice

"Putting our members first is what UNISON is all about. I will always put our union first and serve the best interests of our members. I will not be swayed by the agenda of a political party, my allegiance is to UNISON".

Chris Hanrahan Police & Justice

Friday, January 20, 2017

West Ham Labour Canvassing, Women's March and Sunday Night Live

Dear John
Just a reminder about our canvassing session tomorrow. And an invitation from Seyi Akiwowo to join West Ham Women's Forum at the Women's March tomorrow.

Saturday 21 Jan - Labour's NHS Campaign Action Day 

Meet 11am at Barking Road Community Centre, 627-633 Barking Road, E13 9EZ. We'll be out knocking on doors and talking to residents who've just moved into the area.There may be a General Election in 2017! We need to be out talking to voters. Please come and join us.
Saturday 28 Jan - Campaigning in West Ham ward
Meeting 11am at Sawmill cafe. West Ham Lane, E15 4PH for coffee ready for an 11.30 start 
Women's March (tomorrow!) 11am, Pret, Stratford Stn - message from Seyi Akiwowo, Chair of West Ham Women's Forum
In response to Donald Trump's first day as President of the U.S, there are women-led marches taking place around the world, including central London. The march is an action of solidarity with women in America calling for the protection of their fundamental rights and for the safeguarding of freedoms threatened by recent political events. 
Members have asked me if we could go as a Labour group so if you are interested in going or planned to attend the march but would like some company please join us tomorrow (Sat 21 Jan) 11am at Pret A Manger, Stratford Station. We will head off just before 11:30am, more information about the march (men and children welcome!). Contact number: 07940743811

Sun 29 Jan - Sunday Night Live: Post Truth Politics 
SNL returns with a discussion about how we respond to post truth politics at Gerry's Cafe and Bar, Gerry Raffle's Square, 5pm to 6.30pm.

30 March - Save the Date  - All members meeting with speaker Keir Starmer MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. More info to come.

Look forward to seeing you at something soon. And please get in touch if you'd like any more information.
Best wishes

Julianne Marriott
Vice Chair (Campaigns and Comms) West Ham CLP  @westhamlabour  f westhamlabour  w

(picture from last night West Ham branch "meet & greet" new and old(er) members at the Sawmill cafe). 

F**K Trump and join the United Nations Associations UK

In a very clever and timely email this evening the United Nations Association UK send me the following unsolicited email.

"Dear John,

I would like to invite you to become a member of the United Nations Association - UK, a movement of over 20,000 people who believe that global issues demand a global response.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said "the United Nations is not a friend of democracy, it is not a friend of freedom".

We don’t really know the details of know how US foreign policy will change following his inauguration as President today. But we hope that it will remain engaged with the UN and take seriously its international responsibilities.

If you agree that the world works best when countries work together, please join us as a member.

From just £15 a year you will receive our incisive magazine delivered directly to your door and priority alerts to our events, giving you the opportunity to meet like-minded people.

But much more than that, you will be contributing to our work as we equip teachers, inspire schoolchildren, brief journalists, lobby our government and mobilise groups in local communities across the country.

It’s so important to make sure your voice is heard during this time of uncertainty. I do hope you will join us.

Best wishes,

Richard Nelmes
Deputy Director (Outreach)
United Nations Association – UK

The United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK) is a charitable company limited by guarantee (no. 1146016)"

I have only vaguely heard of the UNA and have become a "supporter" and if it is as good as it seems I will join. Share this if you agree with the above sentiments. 

Wendy Nichols UNISON NEC Candidate Local Government Female Seat

"My priority is to Unison Members and always has been. Given the constant attacks on all of our members by firstly the coalition government and now a conservative one we should never forget that our membership comes first not any political party or outside groups.

We need to reject the politics of division and work for our members and our communities and reject tactics that try to divide us. Austerity has damaged our members and our communities but the Tories don't care, we need properly funded publicly owned services.

Our Union has been defying the odds and we need to continue to grow because we are stronger together. That's why I have taken the Stronger Unison Pledge".

Wendy Nichols
Local Government Female Seat

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wanstead flats on a bright frosty January morning

A beautiful and stunning start to the day. A 30 minutes jog. You would never think that this wonderful open space is surrounded by densely populated suburbia.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"This is Palestine" meeting for UNISON Members about solidarity with and current situation in Palestine at our National Headquarters in Euston, London 6.30pm Wednesday 25 January 2017

Looking forward to chairing this meeting. Please make sure you email Phil ( if you want to attend. 

Maureen Le Marinel Police & Justice UNISON NEC Candidate

"I want our union to work hard for our members, putting their issues and concerns first through a proper democratic process, listening to ALL and acting on the democratic decision of the majority whilst always taking on board the views and needs of the minority and working together to move forward, not disrupting or working against the democratic decisions of the members and those working represent them, it is the membership that elect us and it is the membership who we should be accountable to. 

I have always work in this way and will continue to do so, being honest with what can and can't be delivered and the rationale for both. Be a Stronger UNISON and support those that truly want to support you and not their own agenda's.

Maureen Le Marinel Police & Justice

Tuesday, January 17, 2017