How are Itchen’s Student Union giving other students a taste of the real world?

The Itchen Student Union (ISU) at Itchen Sixth Form College in Southampton is giving students a taste of voting and being candidates in an election. This idea was thought of by me after my experiences in local politics throughout 2013 and 2014. Last year the ISU was led by two teachers – a rather odd idea considering it is the students’ union. This year however, the students have taken back control of what they do and how they wish to operate. Last year, the Chair was chosen by way of an interview – something that is undemocratic and unfair to the students that attend the college. This year, we have used our power to make sure that we choose what is on our agendas, we choose what we want to do.

2015 is the year of the General Election for the United Kingdom, times are changing and the government may well be too. So the ISU has given students a chance to get a taste of voting (even those who are unable to vote) and stand for election to become the next Chair. The ISU has been so hard at work, booking a polling station, working out what voting method we will use to decide who becomes the chair, creating the system to nominate candidates and regulate their expenses. We have worked with Fareham Borough Council to give us an idea how to run the election and also lend some support and materials to use to make sure the day runs smoothly.

(left to right) Me , Elaine Wildig from Fareham Borough Council and Gregory Smith who is the current chair of the ISU

(left to right) Me , Elaine Wildig from Fareham Borough Council and Gregory Smith who is the current chair of the ISU.

A bit much for a college you may say? Definitely not. This gives students the chance to experience what happens outside their college life, what affects not just their outside life but what happens in college to.  One thing I often hear from people who run businesses is the people who have just left education who, yes have the education, but are lacking in real life experience – this is part of the solution.

So today, March the 23rd, we have closed nominations. We have four candidates that students have nominated to run, now we just have to wait and see who wins the election.

Well done to Itchen College for working with the ISU to make this happen and thanks to Fareham Borough Council (and Elaine!) for their support.

Thanks for reading,

Miles

Fareham can Go Green!

To stand for local election, the only thing it costs you is time. Just to get ten signatures and then hand in your form to the local council offices. In terms of a general or by-election – it costs £500. However, in terms of spending that is only tiny compared to the costs of the production of leaflets, distribution, posters etc.

This is why I’ve set up my Crowdfunder. To help pay for these things and to produce leaflets to distribute across the area. So if you can please donate as much as you can. *Disclaimer: You MUST be registered to vote in the United Kingdom if you want to pay £50+*

On the 23rd of February we releasing a Thunderclap – but we need your support!

Please support my Thunderclap by clicking HERE and then selecting “Support with…” and you can pick and choose between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or a blend of the three to help get the word out that we need funds. Remember, we need 100 people supporting it on the 23rd of February otherwise it won’t go out!

An open letter to Sean Woodward

The #MoreBuses petition has received 200 signatures on change.org, here is the email I sent to Cllr Seàn Woodward:

“Dear Cllr Woodward,

I am writing to let you know that the petition started last year to petition you to work with First in order to secure a better bus service for the Western Wards of Fareham has now exceeded it’s 200 signature goal on Change.org – we have received much more in the way of paper petitions.  I’m requesting a meeting with you and representatives of Bus companies operating in Hampshire within the next fortnight to discuss with First Bus how we can have the following routes:
  • One that goes to The Fareham Community Hospital, a minimum of two per hour.
  • A reinstatement of the 28 service to Warsash, again a minimum of two per hour.
  • A route to and from Gosport from Whiteley.
  • A route to and from Fareham from Whiteley.
  • A reinstatement of the X4/4 service that went through Titchfield & Titchfield Common.
It abhorrent that these socially necessary routes are not running and were among the first to go when it came to the cuts that were implemented early last month. Fareham is THE MOST CAR DEPENDENT TOWN IN THE UK. That is not a medal or an honour, it is something to avoid. The fact that MY TOWN has that title, is something that I am deeply ashamed of. As part of our duty as a species to ensure our survival on this planet (there is no Planet B, Cllr Woodward) the people that we have put our faith in should be doing more to reduce our carbon emissions, at whatever level.
Many of the managers at Whiteley have said that they are on the verge of shutting their doors because their staff are unable to get to work on time, because of traffic delays. Many of those who work at Whiteley are young people, many of whom are spending the vast amount of their wages on Taxis or a car. By slashing these services, these young people feel increasingly victimised by these transport cuts that are damaging the local economy. If Welborne goes through, I can assure you – this will only get worse.
In my home village of Warsash, it deeply saddened me to hear that people who used to live down my road are finding it ever more difficult to see their family. These are people who have worked all their lives building up their pensions only to spend most of it on Taxis, adding to the congestion on our roads. Their families don’t have time to constantly drive down to see them, or get the train down from wherever they live and WALK all the way from Swanwick Train Station.
I won’t spend much more time going on, but I will say this. If you, and indeed the privatised bus companies that you hand subsidies to, have any sense of compassion or humanity for the people that you serve then you will do everything and more in your POWER to give the people the bus services that are needed desperately.
Regards
Miles”

Let’s do it.

At the end of my last lesson today we were having a discussion about politics in this country and what my thoughts were – something I’m very grateful for. The typical defeatist arguments were there “How can you do everything you’ve said you want to do?” but for me the one question stuck in my mind was “Why local buses? Why local issues? There are more important issues in the world”. I was a bit offended and disturbed by the narrow-mindedness of such a question.

Let’s put this into perspective, I’ll use my bog standard local issue of buses:

  • Frequent buses on the road that fit in with people’s lives (like the ones we see in Southampton) would lead to less cars on the road.
  • Less cars on the road mean less Co2 emissions, meaning we would be doing our part on a small, but important, scale to reduce climate change.
  • People who financially cannot afford or physically use a car have a cheaper alternative than if they called for a taxi.

There are many more knock-on effects from just this one, apparently small, important issue. I find it incredibly worrying that people who are of my generation have this defeatist, individualistic mentality. A friend of mine, much more “radical” than I, said that me and her wanted the same things – but we had different ideas about how to achieve it. What I believe in is local democracy, I believe that power should be decentralised to the lowest possible level. I believe that local communities should have the power to decide what is best for them in everything. Including their health, education and other public services (notice the word PUBLIC there). I believe that things like transport, the NHS, energy, The Post Office should be nationalised AND decentralised for the reasons why I have already mentioned. I believe that buying local should be a much more desirable option than importing millions of tonnes worth of food, which we end up wasting enough anyway. I believe businesses like Amazon, HSBC should be made to pay the right amount of tax (by the way it has been estimated that tax avoidance costs the UK £80bn or so a year).

All in all, it’s about the people, it’s about bottom-up approaches to our problems. Democracy I believe is the way forward to achieve it, it’s not perfect at the moment – but WE CAN FIX IT, in fact I am going to argue that it is The Green Party that is giving faith to people who are fed up with the current system, giving people hope instead of fear and giving people a real alternative. What I find absolutely appalling is this insane demoralisation of young people who do not believe we can do it. Just look to Greece, Syriza has been making some wonderful progress so far since being elected not too long ago. They are showing that it’s not all doom and gloom, and so too will The Green Party.

What I am offering Fareham is an alternative, to austerity, to pessimism and to the system that divides us socially and destroys our environment. People are waking up from the complacency and defeatism that they have previously succumbed to. There is a way to change the system and it’s not out of the barrel of a gun – it’s a cross on the ballot paper.

Let’s do it! Let’s go Green for Fareham!

Thank you for reading,

miles

Miles

Going Green? Go Grindey!

We need to talk about mental health.

I am backing calls for better provision of support for local people in mental health crisis. Mind, the mental health charity, is calling for local services to deliver on their promise to improve the support for people who are suicidal, self-harming or in psychosis.

Last year, national and local governments, and leaders of key services in England, including health, police, and voluntary organisations, signed the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, an agreement that sets national standards for the care of people in mental health crisis. The Concordat aims to make sure that no matter where someone turns, they get the help they need and don’t fall through the cracks between different services. Key organisations in Fareham have since come together to sign their own local declaration agreeing to achieve the Concordat standards and are now preparing a local action plan to deliver them. [NB a small number of local areas have already done action plans – you can check progress on your local area here: www.crisiscareconcordat.org.uk]

Mental health is an issue that is often overlooked and brushed aside.  One in four constituents will experience a mental health problem this year and countless more will be affected through friends, family, work colleagues and other people in their lives. More needs to be done to ensure those who suffer from mental health problems get the appropriate treatment they need. Just look at the amount of young people going through and coming out of the educational system with mental health problems, it’s disgraceful.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “In a mental health crisis, your mind is at melting point. You may experience extreme anxiety, have suicidal thoughts or even a psychotic episode. It can happen to anyone. When you’re in crisis you need compassion and understanding, no matter who you turn to for help – whether it’s health and ambulance services, the police, social care or voluntary organisations.

“Signing a local Concordat is the first step in improving services but we need to see these good intentions translated into better services for everyone in crisis. We need the next government, and the next set of MPs, to provide clear leadership and resources to make sure the Concordat’s standards are achieved and local action plans delivered so that excellent crisis care is available everywhere.”

Thanks for reading,

miles

Miles

I’m supporting Fareham’s local pubs and breweries

I am pledging my support for local pubs and breweries.

The three pledges are highlighted in the Manifesto for Pubs and Real Ale by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, which sets out a package of reforms they are seeking from the next Government. These important pledges are to:

 

  • Support well-run community pubs
  • Promote Britain’s breweries
  • Represent pub goers and beer drinkers.

 

Tim Page, CAMRA’s Chief Executive welcomed my support, saying:

“We are delighted that Miles has pledged his support for pubs, breweries and consumers. As, on average, 31 pubs close each week it is absolutely vital that our elected representatives recognise and champion the value of these important community assets, and work to protect them.

“CAMRA is urging the next Government to act to ensure that pubs are better protected in the planning system, that large pub companies treat their licensees fairly and that beer duty is set at a level which supports UK brewing.”

I am proud to be campaigning for pubs and real ale. Well-run community pubs play a crucial role in local life and make a massive contribution to the local economy – with each injecting around £80,000 to the local area every year. If elected, I will continue to show my support in Parliament.  I’ve grown up with politicians breaking their pledges, I don’t aim to be one of them!

Thanks for reading

miles

Miles

Going Green? Go Grindey!

I have been selected to stand for Fareham

Well this has been an exciting week to say the least!

Members of the South East Hampshire Green Party have nominated me, a 19 year old Itchen Sixth Form College student, as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Fareham constituency at the next general election, to be held on the 7th of May 2015.

 

As you may know from reading this blog, I have  grown up in Warsash and at the time of the next election, I will be just 20 years old – making me quite possibly one of, if not, the youngest candidates in the UK. I have previously has stood for election in 2013 and 2014 in my home ward of Warsash. I have recently become the Chair of the Warsash Residents’ Association and have been campaigning on local issues such as Public Transport and have demonstrated against the proposed development known as “Welborne”.

 

I’ve grown up in Fareham and I want to see to it that the people of Fareham are actually listened to as opposed to being managed like cattle. It is time we had someone in Parliament who will fight against destructive developments like Welborne, who will fight to renationalise our trains and get proper links to places of work, hospitals and schools, someone who will fight for the next generation and scrap tuition fees, someone who puts people before profit. All my life I’ve heard people crying for an alternative, and here I am.

Let’s rock.

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Miles

BIG NEWS: I’m now the Chair for the Warsash Residents’ Association

I’m extremely pleased to announce that I am the new Chair of the Warsash Residents’ Association. I’d like to start by thanking the members of the association for making me feel so welcome and the members of the committee for giving me the opportunity to help out in my home community. I feel it is also important to thank the former chair, Chris Bridges, for all his hard work as Chair for the last year.

I’m very happy to be in a position where I can give back to the community I’ve grown up in. Warsash is my home – it’s where my heart lies. I hope to raise the profile of the Residents’ Association and engage the whole of the Warsash community into what is happening in our local area, to keep everyone in the know and not just a few.

Not only am I the youngest Chairperson in the Association’s 82 year history, but at 19 years old I may very well be the youngest chairperson in the entire country!

I’m getting very hopeful for the future.

Thanks for reading,

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Miles

Parking Restrictions Eased in Lower Spinney

I’d like to commend the residents of Lower Spinney who petitioned the council to ease counter-productive parking restrictions along one side of their road. Local people worked very hard to agree to a petition with councillors and I am very glad that they called on me to help their cause.

Because of the hard work of local people and their co-operation with myself, we managed to help ease the headache across Warsash that is Yellow Lines. I’d like to thank the residents who invited to come help them by making a deputation at the Council on the 6th of November.

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Here is my speech in full:

“Yellow Lines have been used by the council as a short term solution to tackle a long term problem. Yellow lines in Warsash are just being used to kettle students away because of the failure of the Maritime Academy to provide adequate parking, there has clearly been a failure to work with them in resolving this situation. This has subsequently created a dangerous situation for children to walk to Hook.

Earlier in the year, I spoke to residents in Queens Road who said that until recently they hadn’t had to worry about their kids crossing the roads, but because of the dangerously parked cars moved their by those yellow lines – they’re worried sick and they’re organising safety groups that they didn’t think they’d ever have to organise.

Parking permits are a much more reasonable solution as a whole across Warsash in certain zones.

The consultation to this has been lazy and has been used as a show off around election times. This “Democratic” consultation has been an utter sham and is an insult to the electorate who earlier this year placed their trust in you once more to represent them.”

After other residents made their cases for and against the measure to ease the restrictions (3, including myself, for the motion and one against) – the yellow line is to be removed.

Thanks for reading.

Miles

Fareham needs an alternative

As the Welborne hearings continue, it is becoming more and more clearer that it is completely undemocratic. As our own Prime Minister, David Cameron, said “it is up to the people of Fareham to decide” – seems to be I’ve never been asked if I wanted it!  It also appears to me that the people of Funtley and the surrounding communities have never really been consulted properly.

This time last week, I attended a demonstration organised by Jason Mudge – who is a local hero as far as I am concerned.  For the first time I  (or my family who’ve lived in the borough for nearly 60 years) can recall, there has never been such fierce public opposition to anything directly affecting our town.

Some of our councillors seem to be adamant in building Welborne, they say that it isn’t in their hands and that there is “nothing we can do” – but the last time I checked, we live in a democracy don’t we? Not some absolutist totalitarian regime that is hell bent on clogging up our roads, packing up our schools, our surgeries and destroying vital farmland. Fareham was named the most car dependent town in the entire UK, and the M27 was labelled as “the worst for traffic incidents” – what good will this monstrosity serve if we just keel over and allow these people, who are supposed to represent us, to go ahead with this?

Already we have heard of councillors in the North Fareham ward breaking their silence and saying that they are opposed to this development, and they have my respect for that – they had been effectively gagged up until this point and it’s a brave thing to do, but in my opinion – if David Harrison had been elected in May he wouldn’t have been dormant and actually spoke out about this as early as he could.

Fareham needs an alternative, this universally complacent attitude has been  going on too long, the people of our town need a brighter, Greener alternative that when chosen by the people will work for them tirelessly.

It is time we stand up for our town and take the “Green Plunge”.

Thank you for reading,

miles

 

 

 

 

 

Miles