The Oxfordshire Green Party met for its annual gathering on 29 September, a social event punctuated by serious attention to serious topics. This year, the gathering was held in Eynsham. There were four very interesting talks during the morning, followed by lots of discussion in the afternoon.
The talks were given by passionate people, on behalf of local grass roots groups making a difference in their communities.
NB The speakers and their groups were not affiliated to any political organisation or party.
Erik Nielsen, who chairs the Witney and West Oxfordshire Food Bank, gave an excellent talk on addressing UK food poverty. By national standards, West Oxfordshire is an affluent area, with very low unemployment, yet there are pockets of low wages and real poverty. Most of the clients are aged between 25-35, highlighting the real pressures on this age group. More shockingly 76% of were actually in work, and but often faced with the choice of buying child care or buying food. The main reason for this is the roll-out of Universal Credit, in which people experience a 6 week period during which their old benefits are removed but they re yet to be transferred to the Universal Credit system. Erik called on everyone who is concerned by this to write to his or her MP asking to change the rollout approach so that no-one suffers a gap in support. Click here for more information.
Ashley Smith of the Windrush Against Sewage Pollution group gave a presentation about the really worrying pollution in the River Windrush. There is little to deter water companies releasing raw sewage into our rivers and the WASP group is dedicated to making the public aware of the consequences of what Thames Water is allowed to do to the river. WASP has already been highly successful in gaining national recognition of its efforts. WASP welcomes anyone interested in their work to get in touch and help change the current situation so sewage pollution doesn't enter our rivers.
Angie Titchen of the Eynsham Planning Improvement Campaign, EPIC, was on home turf, and well able to express the anger of so many Eynsham inhabitants at having a large scale housing developments totalling 3200 houses thrust upon them. Angie explained the issues about the developments, and outlined the excellent work and events that the group had done and were planning, to raise awareness of the problems and to fight for solutions to be incorporated into the plans.
Liz Reason talked about the changes that are underway in the structure of the Green Party. No one is in a better position to know; Liz is the newly elected chair of the Green Party’s national executive. Positive change is happening - all member can find out more here.
After these talks, attendees were able to join in structured discussion sessions on different topics in the afternoon.
Finally, we all celebrated the efforts of Craig Simmons, Hazel Dawe, Steve Dawe, and Celia Kerslake who were all nominated by people, to be worthy of praise given their sterling efforts for the Party over the past year.
In conclusion, it was a highly successful day, and we were most appreciative of Helen Gavin’s efforts in organising it.