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MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN MAYO

A Green Manifesto for the Mayo Electoral Area

 

 

Mayo County Council Can Do Better. 

The Green Party Can Make A Difference.

You Decide

 

Planning for a Better Future - Really Affordable Housing - Access All Areas - Protecting Our Water Resource - Local Government for Local Democracy - Waste : Making It Simple to Recycle - Our Future – Our Children - Developing Agriculture - Live Exports - Tourism

 

The Mayo Green Party believes that it provides a key to an improved Quality of Life for everyone in Mayo.  In local government, the Green Party will work towards:

Intelligent sustainable planning which takes the  wishes of the community into consideration;
Cleaner water
;
Extended public transport systems
for town  and rural areas;
Cherishing our children, protecting our adolescents;
Supporting our agricultural community;
Ensuring doorstep collection for recycling;
Holding our elected officials accountable.
Restoring democratic power to local government

 

The Green Party wants Mayo County Council to be innovative, extending its brief to actively seek to better determine and serve the needs of its people in a more expedient, effective way.

Planning for a Better Future

 “A basic Green principal is the effective involvement of local residents in local planning decisions at all stages, so that their views have a genuine impact on the outcome.”

 Planning is the most significant area of responsibility for town and county councils. What is planned now will affect the quality of life for generations to come, in Westport and in Mayo.  Planning must respect the rights and responsibilities of individuals.

 A basic Green principal is the effective involvement of local residents in local planning decisions at all stages, so that their views have a genuine impact on the outcome. The Strategic Policy Committee is the place for them to make a difference.

 Communities within Walking Distance

 The Green Party promotes mixed-use development and the concept of the urban village. This means clustering housing, with accommodation for light industry and business, as well as community and recreation facilities all within walking distance.

 Transparency Not Vested Interests

 When people believe that the levers of decision-making on planning are controlled by a narrow set of interests, public confidence is replaced by cynicism. The Green Party is committed to restoring confidence in the system through enhanced transparency, accountability and effective powers for local representatives to intervene in the property market.

 Really Affordable Housing

With 56,000 people currently on local authority waiting lists country-wide, the solution is obvious - build more social housing – really affordable social housing. Nowhere is home ownership more important than in Mayo and it is essential that affordable housing is a local government priority. The Greens advocate special financial consideration for first time buyers, and propose that it is not limited to new builds.
ref: The overall results indicate that at 31 March 2008 just over 56,000 households were in need of social housing support compared with nearly 43,000 in 2005, an increase of over 30%”, Minister Finneran .

 

First time buyer grants

 

In the spirit of re-use and recycle, we believe that older, well-built houses should not suffer neglect and decay, but should be prioritised for re-use with grants to the first time buyer.  This grant scheme could be extended to the elderly, who wish to move into smaller housing. Grants should also be available to accommodate renewal of facilities adapted to the special needs of the elderly, as well as those with disability.

 

Social Housing

 Access to housing is most inequitable for those living on low income and who are dependent on the private rented sector. Those in the private rented sector pay a higher amount and a higher proportion of their income on housing costs than owner-occupiers. Because of this inequality, they are more likely to be at risk of poverty than other housing groups.

 The shrinking availability of social housing [only 8% of the national housing stock is social housing] has been a major contributory factor in bringing about this inequality. With 56,000 people currently on local authority waiting lists country-wide, the solution is obvious - build more social housing – really affordable social housing.

 The Green Party also insists that immediate attention be given to the planning needs for those people in Mayo with disability. It is not good enough to be on a list. A better system for serving their needs  and those of their carers, as enshrined in the Local Government Act 2001, must be implemented.

Access All Areas

 “Mayo needs a public transportation system which gives everybody access to work, shopping, social and leisure facilities at hours which suit our needs, and which has a minimum impact on our environment.”

 The Green Party advocates intelligent fiscal measures to bring about a more sustainable and user-friendly public transport culture, putting people (not cars) and access at the heart of planning processes. This includes specific attention to the needs of  the elderly and people with disability. There are between 30,000 and 40,000 people with disability in Mayo, according to the Disability Federation of Ireland. Mayo County Council must consider their needs more proactively.

 Public Transport Not More Cars

 Mayo needs a public transportation system which gives everybody access to work, shopping, social and leisure facilities, at hours which suit our needs and which has a minimum impact on our environment.  Cars, now essential for even the shortest journey for messages, are having an increasingly negative impact on our lives, our lungs and the future of our planet.

 A proper transport system for the Westport area of Mayo – indeed the entire province - must accommodate people in the country as well as those in the built environs of Westport, Newport and Louisburgh. We are not too small for ‘park and take the bus’ schemes which could operate from key points outside the principal towns - like Aghagower, Lecanvey, Kilmeena and the Quays in Westport.

 The Green Party advocates co-ordination of the bus scheme with more frequent local trains in Mayo, including connections to the Green Party supported Western Rail Corridor. A user-friendly transport scheme should also address the needs of the islands like Clare Island and Inisturk.  For example, all travel tickets should be interchangeable – usable on rail, bus or boat.  

 If better public transport was available, the many tourists who depend on it would be more likely to choose Mayo as a holiday destination.

 Protecting Our Water Resource

 “The Greens believe that there are considerable opportunities to control demand and protect water resources while reducing costs.”

 One of the basic, fundamental human needs is pure drinking water.  In Mayo, this precious resource must be protected.

 The Green Party emphatically supports the reduction of water pollution at source, in the home, on the farm and in industry, because it is more efficient and cheaper in the long run to pre-empt and prevent pollution.

 Making Group Water Schemes Safe

 The performance of group water schemes still lags behind public water schemes and remains unacceptable to the Green Party.  A Green Party priority is to address the unacceptably poor quality of many of the group water schemes and ensuring that public and private water supplies will meet the requirements of the new European Communities (Drinking Water) Regulations 2000. The historical performance of group schemes raises serious health issues. The relevant Westport Town and Mayo County Council Strategic Policy Committees must address this issue urgently.

  Saving Water

 Unaccounted-for water represents almost 50% of the potable water in circulation. Like water pollution, water wastage is preventable at source. The use of water-monitoring devices can be useful to educate the commercial and household sectors and reduce water wastage.

The Green Party believe that there are considerable opportunities to control demand and protect water resources while reducing costs. If steps are taken to render the costs of water more transparent to consumers, this will enable greater efficiency and stimulate conservation.

 Local Government for Local Democracy … And Not Just At Election Time

 “The Green Party believe that, we, the public, must be able to call our elected officials to account.  Private householders, local merchants, small businesses and industry are entitled to a voice in their governing bodies – and not just at election time.”

 The beliefs underlying the European Charter of Local Self Government, to which our Government is a signatory, include the recognition of local government as part of the foundations of any democratic regime, the right of citizens to participate in the conduct of public affairs and the fact that this right can be most directly exercised at the local level.

 Accessible Local Government

 The workings of local government must be transparent to the public who elect it.  For democracy to be a viable form of government, the electorate must have regular, public access to their elected officials, to the governing process as well as the decision-making process.

 In other words, we, the public, must be able to call our elected officials to account. Private householders, local merchants, small businesses and industries are entitled to a voice in their governing bodies – and not just at election time.

 The Green Party advocates broader advertisement of Council Meetings and its agenda, and those meetings should be held at a time when the majority of electorate can attend. We advocate announcements of actions taken by the council in clear unambiguous language. We advocate regular public meetings, where the electorate can question representatives, and elected officials can explain their actions, thus assisting their work through participatory democracy.

The Strategic Policy Committees of local government should also report regularly to the local media on their activities, seeking the feedback of the electorate.  The Green Party advocates more active participation in the  Mayo County Council’s Strategic Policy Committees by active, interested members of the community, who will augment and direct the Committees’ work for the benefit of Mayo.

 Checks and balances

 The Green Party also calls for the reintroduction of legislative proposals for directly elected mayors. Power must also be transferred from county/city manager apparatchiks. Legislation designed to hamper the exercise of local decision-making by public representatives must be dismantled.

 To ensure that there will be no return to the abuses of local power, as in planning decisions, the Green Party in Mayo also supports a new system of checks and balances, including the institution of a Local Government Ombudsman.

Waste : Making It Simple to Recycle

 “With a programme of Zero Waste, societies can achieve up to 60% waste reduction in three to five years with currently available technologies. (Zero Waste, Murray,R 2002).  The Green Party believes that this aim is entirely within our capacity in Mayo.”

 The Green Party believes that this aim is entirely within our capacity in Mayo.

The waste crisis in Ireland continues to grow. A report by Forfas entitled “Key Waste Management Issues in Ireland reveals that Ireland has a faster growth of waste production than the majority of other European member states. The report highlights that between 1995 and 1998, waste generation in Ireland increased by 89%.

In Ireland, we produce 576 kg of municipal waste per person, compared to a European average of 450 kg per person.

 The principle of reduce reuse recycle is, by now, well known. The practice is another matter. The key is a Zero Waste Strategy.

Mayo Greens believe people should be rewarded for recycling, not charged.

 Setting deadlines for Zero Waste

 While Zero Waste is a generational challenge (i.e. it took more than 20 years to bring about a change in our attitude to smoking), it is important to set  deadlines in order to engage everyone in a process that will involve redesigning our systems, our legislation, our technologies as well as our mindset about waste.

 With a programme of Zero Waste, societies can achieve up to 60% waste reduction in three to five years with currently available technologies. (Zero Waste, Murray,R 2002).

 The Green Party believes that this aim is entirely within our capacity in Mayo. There are no technical barriers to achieving a “zero waste society”. To accomplish this goal we must change not only our waste management techniques but also our personal habits. We believe that it is well past time for a significant shift from the dark ages of indiscriminate, out of sight, out of mind, waste disposal, to a new era of Zero Waste.

 Recycling Made Simple

 On a local level, the Greens want to make it simple to recycle. The Mayo County and Westport Town Councils must step up their implementation of the National Waste Strategy. The public amenity at Derrinumera (check spelling) is not amenable to all. We must have doorstep recycling in Mayo. That is, a regular, scheduled collection of separated waste collected from the doorstep – with separate containers for the different types of waste provided at no charge to the householder.

 It is also time Mayo got tough on the waste of waste. Brown waste, the by-products of restaurant, farm, household and some industrial waste is a valuable commodity which can be used to enhance the environment.  The Greens believe that brown waste as a resource has been neglected for long enough in Mayo.

 Encouraging Composting

 The Green Party supports the complete diversion of organic or biodegradable waste from landfill to composting and ultimate use as fertiliser for soil. Westport Town and Mayo County Council should supply free of charge, home compost bins to householders for organic domestic waste, and should also facilitate commercial brown waste.

 Not everyone needs compost. Therefore, the Mayo Green Party advocates the use of Vertical Compost Units used to process brown waste, in other locations such as New Zealand. These units have a capacity of 14,000 tonnes per year. They have ten chambers, which allow different qualities of materials to be processed separately and cleanly. The equipment is modular, so it can be adapted to the size of the area served. A single unit with a capacity of some 1,250 to 1,400 tonnes would service the organic waste from a town of 5,000-10,000 households, and require just an hour a day to maintain.  

The New Zealand plant processes organics and garden waste from households, and catering scraps.  After processing, the waste, now fertilizer, is sold to local landscaping firms, which mixes it with topsoil for use in new housing developments. We can do this in Mayo.

 Our Future – Our Children

 The Greens believe that we do not inherit the earth, we are charged with preserving it for future generations. Therefore, we must not only look after the earth for our children, but we must also prepare our children for their guardianship of the earth. One facet of this responsibility is ensuring the right of children to access to both parents in separated families, which means protection of the rights of both parents to equal access to their children.

The Green Party advocates that we put the welfare of our children at the heart of policy-making in local government, ensuring that all Special Policy Committees take account of the welfare of children and that actions taken are consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  In local government, we will ensure that all policies decided at local and county council level are “child-friendly”.

 These include:

  • Measures to provide greater access for families to really affordable housing, in areas serviced by schools and amenities;
  • Mandatory provision of play spaces in all new residential developments and in existing estates;
  • Safe ‘Home Zones’ designed to reduce the risk of traffic accidents, encourage outdoor activity and facilitate safe routes to schools;
  • Support for the Mayo breastfeeding initiative;
  • Encouraging local restaurants and takeaways to promote healthy eating, especially those catering to school children as a way of tackling obesity and poor nutrition;
  • Expanded recreation facilities for children in all areas of Mayo
  • Facilities for adolescents that promote essential socialization in a safe drug and alcohol-free environment.

Developing Agriculture

 

“The Green Party believes that local government should encourage and support a transition which will allow the farmer to return to full-time farming.”

 

The farmer has been the backbone of development in Mayo. However, the number of farms in the county has decreased dramatically over recent decades, whilst the per-hectare output from livestock and dairy enterprises has increased.

 

Farmers receive disproportionately less for their produce than the middlemen who provide it to the consumer. Fifty years ago, farmers received about 50% of what consumers spent on food. Today that proportion is as low as 12%. Farmers are continually in a price-cost squeeze, with falling incomes and rising costs due to inflation. The resulting poor profitability is hidden by subsidies and grants, as well as off-farm work by the farmer and his or her spouse.

 

The Green Party supports and encourages the farmer to make environmentally friendly use of his land as carbon sink, wind farm, biomass produce or organic farming. Agro and Eco-tourism can also allow the farmer to view his farm as a viable, full-time occupation once again.

 

The Green Party believes that local government should encourage and support a transition which will allow the farmer to return to full-time farming, by providing further incentives to the farmer to contribute to the local economy, the local energy supply source as well as the local food demands.

 

Live Exports


The Mayo Green Party would like to clarify their position on LIVE EXPORTS.

The Green Party does NOT call for an outright ban on live exports but nor would we promote or encourage the live export of animals.

 The Green Party does understand that if there were no live exports at present, the meat factories would have a monopoly on the meat trade in Ireland and the prices paid to the farmer would drop considerably. Until a viable alternative can be offered, the Green Party will seek to reduce the dominance of the large meat factories and supermarkets and lobby for the humane transport of animals at home and abroad while seeking to phase out live exports over time. The Party will promote local abattoirs and value-added meat processing to minimise live animal transportation.

 There should be a policy to retain the national network of local abattoirs, to ensure that all livestock can be slaughtered close to the farm. Measures would include a commitment to greatly reduce charges and other regulatory burdens for small/medium sized abattoirs. Smaller plants would benefit from a lighter official inspection regime, thus encouraging small innovative companies to develop. This would benefit the whole agricultural industry and counter the trend in the intensification of food
production.

 The conditions under which animals are transported do need to be clearly established and equally enforced because where poor conditions are tolerated the affects are bad for all involved:

  • The animals suffer;

  • The farmer who has reared the stock to the best possible quality risks losing future business if his stock arrives at  its destination battered and bruised;

  • Those who work in the haulage trade have to endure unpleasant and degrading working conditions;

  • The purchaser loses a percentage of the value of his end product, or he passes it on to

  • The consumer, who if aware that conditions are sometimes bad, will question the value of the product.

The Green Party strongly supports the small farmer remaining on the land, with viable crops and a sustainable income.

 

The Green Party has a comprehensive Agriculture and Food policy that can be seen at http://www.greenparty.ie/policies

Tourism

 

Tourism is a vital part of the economy in Mayo. But we can do better. In an expanded EU, we have an expanded market to accommodate.  Greater promotion, as well as greater attention to ecotourism is the way forward, both to sustain income as well as to sustain our environment.

 The Mayo Green Party proposes setting up Ecotourism Mayo, to facilitate travel to Mayo’s natural areas in a manner that both displays and protects the environment whilst contributing to the welfare of local area residents. From the tourist viewpoint, ecotravel means traveling to pristine protected areas, in a low ecological impact manner, on a small scale. It would liaise with similar projects throughout Ireland and throughout the expanded European Union.

Its goals would be educating the visitor about environmental, heritage and cultural matters in Mayo. The added benefit for Mayo would be the sourcing of  funds, directly, or indirectly for conservation, cultural or heritage projects.

Another of Mayo Ecotourism’s goals would be to facilitate benefits for sustainable economic development and political empowerment of local communities in Mayo. The focus of ecotourism is sustainability.

 Mayo County Council must also become proactively involved in ensuring the needs of the tourist with disabilities. Tourist offices, public buildings, hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and shops must adhere to the recent regulations. The Green Party’s demand for addressing the needs for tourists with disabilities cannot be overstated. Mayo County Council should be active in insisting on the implementation of the regulations already in place.

 

The interests of tourism will best be served by extending existing facilities for the residents and tourists alike - rather than creating artificial tourist attractions.   This integral approach makes for happier residents, and for return visits by tourists. 

 Contacting the Green Party

 Your Green Party candidate for the Mayo Constituency is: 

 

John A Carey

 

 For a complete list of policies of the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas, please visit our websites:

http://www.greenparty.ie and our local website: http://www.mayogreens.org