It was therefore particularly pleasing to receive this letter forwarded (but not written) by Peter Walker, the Chairman of the lively award-winning Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum in Birmingham:
You may have read the news on Twitter already but, for those of you who haven’t, here is an update on Birmingham City Council’s planning decision to approve demolition of Fitness First/PSL Bowling in favour of a Lidl supermarket on the site.
Thanks to ongoing free legal support from the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), a national UK charity that helps people use the law to protect and improve their local environment and quality of life, we have some good news to report. With ELF’s tremendous help in checking over the planning case, and a Stirchley resident and a SuperStirchley supporter willing to be named as the person challenging the public body, we sent a Pre-Action Letter for Judicial Review to Birmingham City Council.
Last night (20 March) SuperStirchley attended a public meeting at Stirchley Community Church called by Cllr Rob Sealey on the topic of Tesco’s withdrawal from its planned Stirchley site. Simon Turner (Planning Officer responsible for city south planning applications) and Ian MacLeod (Assistant Director of Regeneration and Planning) were in attendance. However, before the Tesco discussion began, Cllr Sealey made an announcement on the Lidl application:
“Following the pre-action letter setting out grounds for a judicial review that was sent to the Council by ELF on behalf of local residents, BCC has accepted that the decision had been incorrectly decided. The council will therefore agree to quash the planning permission previously granted to Lidl. This will not prevent Lidl from making a further application but such an application will be treated as a new application”.
Lidl could still submit another planning application – which would be their third – but it’s possible that would be more difficult to approve following this consent to judgment. We don’t want to raise false hopes if there are implications yet to come out – we are merely stating what was said at the meeting by council officials.
We want to thank Environmental Law Foundation for their incredible help. Please consider becoming a member to support their work – without them we wouldn’t have been able to do this.
Peter adds: “We hope this shows other locals that standing up for things that matter really can make a difference. And as we have always maintained: we are not against Lidl, we were opposing the loss of our facilities”.
Reading around the subject it emerged that Birmingham University has joined the growing national network of pro-bono ELF student law clinics. The University of Birmingham Law Clinic Contact Birmingham FLAG has No 5 Chambers in Birmingham as their supervising partner. Two very interesting cases were initially sent for their students to work on – the first was a matter concerning a Parish Council’s statutory duties to local people to provide allotments (where private allotment space had been promised and not delivered.
Climate change, mass migration, unfettered corporate power, religious fanaticism, inequality, the rise of the far right . . . Individually these problems are tough enough; combined, they’re surely insurmountable. Or are they?
The Simpol Solution explains why our efforts to deal with these issues are failing and proposes new ways of thinking that can help us tackle them. Drawing on a multinational movement already gaining momentum among politicians and academics, this game-changing book proposes a solution which shows that solving global problems could be closer than we think.
‘The Simpol Solution takes a welcome fresh look at political/economic reality and clearly explains the psychology behind why we need new eyes to see how we might force politicians to change the world on our behalf.’ – Joris Luyendijk, author, journalist and talk-show host
‘I nodded until I got a crick in my neck. I haven’t read a book for years that I agreed with so deeply and so consistently – nor felt so keenly that these are messages the world needs to hear.’ – Simon Anholt, founder, the Good Country Index
‘The Simpol Solution shows the real possibilities of a worldcentric paradigm shift, transcending from a competitive to a cooperative evolution and mode of consciousness. A real pleasure to read and a potential political pathbreaker.’ – Professor Ugo Mattei, University of California
‘A courageous and urgently needed book.’ – Ervin Laszlo, author, philosopher and evolutionary systems theorist
John Bunzl – Founder & Trustee
International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO)
After reading Ian Potter’s downbeat dairy news posted on the Political Concern website, Julian Rose writes by email:
“Ian is an enduring stalwart of the dairy industry. I bought and sold quota through him back in the 1990’s. His prognosis is all too true, it is indeed the supermarket and the global marketing casino that continue to ensure that the price of milk is subject to the roller-coaster ride it has become tragically accustomed to. A roller-coaster which continually forces dairy farming onto its knees.
But at the other end of the spectrum, as Tom Levitt also points out, a revival is taking place of the small herd supplying fresh, local and mostly unpasteurised milk direct to the public – micro-dairying:
“Unlike the product we pick off the shelf in the supermarket, the milk from micro-dairies is invariably unhomogenised. It is often still pasteurised to kill harmful bacteria, but even the semi-skimmed varieties are sold with the almost forgotten creamy top.
“The difference in the quality of milk, when the focus is on producing quality over quantity, is remarkable and it feels strange to call what we produce and what you pull off the supermarket shelves, by the same word – milk,’ says Josh Healy, who runs North Aston Dairy, a 19-cow herd in Oxfordshire, providing organic milk twice a week for 250 local customers”.
Julian ends: “There could hardly be a more contrasting scenario within the world of dairy farming. I believe that the brighter future might belong to the ‘micro-dairy’ practitioners. Not least because their product is about as close as one can get to ‘real food’, whereas the process of ‘denaturing’, performed on milk from wholesale suppliers destined for supermarkets, is wholly destructive of all the most valuable elements of this once excellent food.
“Ultimately the buyer will come to recognize this difference”.
(Andrew is beginning to make a forest/biodiverse garden in a Bordesley park. Molly Scott Cato helped to set up a very successful community supported agriculture scheme).
Rashneh and Katy continue: “Please do let us know if there is anything we can do to help. All the material on our Biodiversity Garden is on this portal: www.spbiodiversitygardens.com”
The Native Biodiversity Garden is spread over one acre of land at the edge of Teenvira Dam, in the coastal town of Alibaug, Maharashtra. The website tells us:
“This garden is an earnest attempt to conserve nature, attract native species of flora and fauna back into our ecosystems and most importantly, serve as a Learning Resource Centre for students, teachers, parents and all visitors . . .
“This garden showcases the beauty and wonder of native plant species. These plants form a vital component of our ecosystems by providing habitats for insects, birds, amphibians and mammals, being an important source of food and medicines and providing ecosystem services such as air purification and preventing soil erosion.
“This is an eco-friendly and sustainable garden, and visitors are requested to enjoy it with care. It is powered by solar energy with the aim to promote the use of renewable energy and uses drip irrigation to ensure water conservation. Pathways have been designed to facilitate wheelchair access.
“The garden has 17 different thematic sections namely sensory, medicinal, butterfly, wetland or pond ecosystem, grasses, ficus, orchids, ferns, bamboo, palms, spices, kitchen, vertical, adaptation, celebration and a sacred grove. Most importantly, there is a special section on the Western Ghat species since Raigad District falls within this Biodiversity Hotspot where many species are on the verge of extinction. The garden plays host to over 500 native species of plants, some of which are extremely rare and unique with saplings having been procured from across India . . .
“The project commenced in April 2015 and in a brief span of 9 months, a barren plot of land was converted into a lush green garden with the plantation of over 45,000 saplings across 500+ native species.
“This twelve minute film documents the transformation”.
Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad? Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár
What will we do in the future without wood? The end of the forests has come.
Feasta‘s aim is “to identify the characteristics (economic, cultural and environmental) of a truly sustainable society, articulate how the necessary transition can be effected and promote the implementation of the measures required for this purpose”. (http://www.feasta.org).
Today the challenges seem greater than ever. How can the human species learn to live in harmony with the Earth, the rest of the natural world and with each other? For the last 15 years the Retreat Lodges at Rossbeigh, Co Kerry have proved to be a good place to think and talk about these issues: built with stone walls and a slate roof, the windows look out over tidal marshes and sand-dunes to the forty-mile long Dingle Peninsula and across Dingle Bay to the Blasket Islands and the Atlantic.
John Jopling is now re-launching the week-long Feasta residential courses held here for the last 16 years. The following programme is proposed:
- Series title: “Learning for the Future”.
- The courses will be held once a year – possibly increasing to twice a year
- They will ideally be announced 6 months ahead, naming subjects and key people.
- The first week in the new format will be the last week of June 2017.
- Each week will feature three or four main subjects.
- Each subject will be led by a key person.
- There will be 8 or 10 other participants.
- In addition there will be time for single session topics using “Open Space”.
- These might include talks about eg local wildlife.
- and/or ideas people are working on.
- Reading matter may be circulated to intended participants in advance.
Relevant topics could include:
- Gaia, Dark Mountain, systems-change and emergence, the Viable Systems Model.
- Climate change, biodiversity, the interdependence of species, other global boundaries.
- governance systems and economic systems such as De-growth
- the role of compassion and non-violence.
- commons, localisation, global citizenship, community ownership, co-ops, co-housing, community currencies, permaculture.
- topics such as wealth, inequality, ownership, corporate structures, money, taxes, citizens income, energy, cities, nano-technology.
Please feel free to suggest other topics – but be prepared to present them and/or suggest people who will, as the guarantee of well prepared discussions by people with expertise is important to making the courses a success.
The event explored a new practical solution to global inequality and poverty. Feasta’s Caroline Whyte, who is involved in the CapGlobalCarbon campaign, was on a panel discussing practicalities.
By the time Zerbanoo’s newsletter arrived, there had been a decision which dashed the dreams of Chagossians.
She recalls that the Feasibility Study of 2002 was finally discredited in 2012 but immediately Wm.Hague announced a new one which reported in 2014 that there was no obstacle to resettlement. Then in June 2016 the Supreme Court decided that any failure to follow the new study could be attacked in Court as “irrational” and gave leave to challenge the Marine Protected Area which Wikileaks had disclosed was intended to prevent resettlement. This followed a decision of a UN Maritime Tribunal which held the MPA unlawful because it did not respect the rights of Mauritius as a neighbouring state and one with residual sovereignty rights to Chagos. The UN required Britain to start negotiations over the return of sovereignty of the islands to Mauritius.
Her husband Richard had been giving legal services pro bono for 20 years since meeting exiled islanders in Mauritius and the first court victory in 2000 led to premature hopes of a humane solution. Zerbanoo commented ruefully: “But foreign policy is not changed so easily, and FCO had many tricks up their sleeve, requiring two decades of court cases and parliamentary oversight to turn the tide and bring the islanders back home. The effects of the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were all deployed to defeat resettlement”.
Shamefully, Chagos islanders who were expelled in the 1960s to make way for military bases will not be allowed to return to their Indian Ocean homes, the British Foreign Office announced in November 2016, citing the UK’s interest in its “defence relationship” with the US.
Reacting to the decision, David Snoxell, who was deputy commissioner for British Indian Ocean Territory in the 1990s, said: “A small-scale resettlement could have been tried and 15 years of deception, litigation, wasted public funds and damage to the UK’s human rights reputation avoided. Judges at all levels have deplored the treatment of the Chagossian population since 2000. I cannot recall any other issue, at least in the 35 years that I was in the diplomatic service, which has so let down the FCO, undermined our ethical standards, been so carelessly and unsympathetically handled and caused so much unnecessary anguish than this one. I still feel ashamed at the way the FCO has treated and tricked a people whom we had a sacred duty to protect.”
The US is to be granted a further 20-year lease to use the military base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, when it comes up for renewal at the end of this year.
Later, in Part 2, Zerbanoo’s news of cheering work at the Asha Centre.