Transition Bath Parliamentary Hustings Report & Video: 23 March 2015

  • The 6 parliamentary candidates and the Chair, Jane Stephenson
  • The audience thanking the panel at the end of the Hustings
  • Would you trust politicians after David Cameron's contradictions over the 'Greenest Government Ever' and 'Green Crap' statements?
  • The panel taking an audience question about 'trust'
  • An audience question about lobbying, political funding and trust.
  • Do you believe that infinite economic growth is possible?
  • Do you believe that infinite economic growth is possible?
  • Should GDP be the primary measure of the UK’s success, or should we consider other measures like ‘happiness’ or the ‘quality of life’?
  • What measures would you introduce to solve Bath's transport problems?
  • A comment from the audience on local food
  • An audience question about local food production and consumption
  • Is freeganism acceptable?
  • Do supermarkets' pay a fair price for milk - the audience voting no
  • A point from the audience on energy efficiency and power generation subsidies
  • A point from the audience on energy efficiency and power generation subsidies
  • Loraine Morgan Brinkhurst, Independent, answering a question on power generation and energy efficiency subsidies
  • Julian Deverell, UKIP answering a question on power generation and energy efficiency subsidies
  • Paul Stansall, from the audience asking the candidates what practical measures they have taken at home to reduce their carbon footprint
  • Ben Howlett, answering a question on EU labelling of appliances
  • Steve Bradley, Liberal Democrats, during his opening speech
  • Dominic Tristram, Green Party, during his opening speech
  • Julian Deverell, UKIP, during his opening speech
  • Ollie Middleton, Labour during his opening speech
  • Ben Howlett, Conservative during his opening speech
  • Loraine Morgan Brinkhurst, Independent during her opening speech

The Transition Bath Parliamentary Hustings on Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability took place on Monday 23rd March 2015. It proved to be a great success with more than 90 people attending the 2 hour Hustings at BRLSI on Queens Square. During the course of the evening we got through 23 questions, some short and some long, across a wide range of subjects.

The candidate’s responses were interesting with a few diverging from the party line and some allegedly happy to stand against their party’s policy. A detailed list of questions and answers appears below.

A powerpoint version of the questions asked during the Hustings is available here. We would also like to thank everyone who submitted their questions ahead of the event- about 90 questions in total.

A video of the event produced by Democratic Accountability Bath appears below (after about an hour the battery on the video camera failed, so the remainder of the recording is audio only):


NOTES/TRANSCRIPT of the event below

The notes below were taken at the time and may misrepresent what the candidates said, but it is not our intention, we are happy to correct any inaccuracies if you let us know? It also includes the views of the audience, including the rough percentages of hands shown when they were asked a question, something which may not be apparent from the video.


Candidate Opening Statements 5 x 2 minutes

Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurt, Independent (LMB – Independent)

Against fracking, its impact on thermal waters. Concerned about air pollution in Bath, family experience of asthma from pollution. Wanted more seagull proof rubbish bags. The Farmers Market is very important to Bath.

Ben Howlett, Conservatives (BH- Cons)

Would tackle air pollution. Believes in sustainable transport, want to introduce Oyster Cards into Bath to reduce bus prices like in London. Wants segregated cycle ways. Wants to reduce overdevelopment of Bath’s hills e.g. housing on the South Stoke plateau. Wants UK to be an international Climate Change leader, and reform the EU CAP policy. Renewables have more thn doubled under the government in the last 5 years.

Dominic Tristram, Green Party (DT – Greens)

Radical policies – other parties tinker. 2030 reduction to 10% of current CO2 levels. Personal tradable carbon budget/credit. Problems with traffic pollution in Bath, would introduce a congestion charge.

Ollie Middleton Labour (OM – Labour)

Labour introduced Climate Change Act, hunting ban, doubled renewables to 2009, committed to 2030 decarbonisation target, stopping badger cull, creating 1 million green jobs by 2025, tackling air pollution, improving poor transport and Bath’s park and ride infrastructure.

Julian Deverell, UKIP (JD – UKIP)

Honest approach, won’t tell us what we want to hear. Sceptical about human involvement in climate change, concerned with Climate Change believers prosecution of non-believers. Scrap carbon targets, abolish green taxes. The choice is between fuel and food poverty and these taxes.

Steve Bradley, Lib Dem (SB- Lib Dem)

In 1986 he recycled drinks cans, so realised it was a problem then; 29 years later he believes man-made climate change is the biggest threat to humans – more than wars etc. He has lifelong environmental credentials, has been active in Transition Bath, opposed to fracking and nuclear weapons, fox hunting & the badger cull. He hoped we could see his passion for the subject. Wants Bath to be UKs greenest city and that he will be Bath’s greenest ever MP.


Energy Quick fire question 1: Fracking

 

  • Fracking: yes or no in Bath?                                 – no candidate or the anyone in the audience said yes
  • Fracking: yes or no in Somerset?                        – JD UKIP said yes, plus 5% of audience
  • Fracking: yes or no anywhere in Britain?          – JD UKIP + BH Cons, plus 10% of audience said yes

Energy Quick fire question 2: Priorities for new electricity power generation

 

What types of power generation should the UK be investing most in? Please select your top 4:

  • Coal
  • Gas
  • Nuclear
  • Onshore Wind
  • Offshore Wind
  • Solar PV
  • Hydro
  • Tidal lagoon

Generally in order of the candidate’s preference:

SB, Lib Dems Offshore wind Solar PV Hydro Onshore wind
DT, Greens Onshore wind Offshore wind Solar PV Tidal lagoons
JD, UKIP Coal Gas Nuclear Solar
OM, Labour Onshore wind Offshore wind Solar PV Tidal lagoons
BH, Cons Solar PV Offshore wind Nuclear Gas
LMB, Ind Onshore wind Offshore wind Solar PV Hydro

 


Energy Quick fire question 3: Would your party support the government proposal to stop Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rated F and G homes being rented out from 2018? Yes/No

 

All candidates said yes to this except JD UKIP

About 50% of the audience supported this, but there was a lot of confusion about what F and G rated EPC homes were – are they good or bad? So the audience answer was probably invalid because of the technical nature and framing of the question?


Energy Quick fire question 4: Would you support the reinstatement of the requirement for Energy Performance Certificates on listed buildings, an exemption introduced by Don Foster while Minister for Buildings in 2013?

Yes/No

All candidates said yes to this except JD UKIP

95% of the audience supported this measure


Energy Quick fire question 5: Does the EU have a role in promoting the energy efficiency of appliances via ratings and bans?

 

LMB – Ind: should be the role of the manufacturers and retailers

BH – Cons: Yes, had recently visited SW Low Carbon forum and EU ratings had had a big impact on vehicles emissions

OM Labour: Yes, should have a greater role – unclear whethr he was answering this question

JD UKIP: no, doesn’t like EU regs, largely drawn up as a result of corporate and vest interest group lobbying

DT – Greens: Yes – it’s the best thing the EU does. Can do anywhere in EU and purchase goods with the same rating labels

SB – Lib Dems: Yes: white goods, cars, appliances – but also should include externalities in future

Audience: about 90% supported the EU’s role


Energy Long question 6:  Putting aside you and your party’s policies on climate change prevention and mitigation:

In the recent past what practical things have you and your immediate family undertaken to address your consumption of fossil fuels and by implication your carbon footprint(s)?

SB Lib Dems: electric car for 10+years, cycled here today, installed solar PV on previous house

DT Greens: solar PV, all energy sources green, vegan, does not fly

JD UKIP: recently bought new house, insulated the loft, new efficient boiler, however runs a 300 bhp car, and taken 500 flights for his parachuting hobby

OM Labour: no car, walks, cycles, can’t install solar PV as lives in Grade 1 listed building

BH Cons: recycles, has energy efficient light bulbs, renting so difficult to make changes, food recycling

LMB Ind: recycling, kids cycle, doesn’t have a driving license so uses buses and walks a lot


Energy Long question 7:  Should energy efficiency measures be subsidised?

And should energy supplies to the public be subsidised either directly as in the Feed in Tariff or indirectly as in the tax breaks for oil and gas exploration etc.?

OL Labour: Supports ECO energy efficiency subsidies, supports highest standards of energy efficiency in new homes, against oil tax breaks, Labour has a 2030 decarbonisation target, 1million green jobs by 2025

JD UKIP:  ECO energy efficiency subsidies should be abolished, should have tax breaks for oil and gas industry, FITs are for middle classes, need to address social welfare for fuel poverty, coal important, outrageous that old people are dying

BH Cons: Yes, but needs rebalancing, should subsidise zero carbon housing, reduce fossil fuel subsidies, and increase renewables, but needs growing economy to support this

DT Greens: yes to subsidies, ECO funding – avoid excess winter deaths, in favour of insulation

LMB Ind: should encourage commercial businesses to do more, and increase FIT payments

SB Lib Dem: Yes, demand reduction most important, there is a market failure with valuing the externalities: need a healthy environment, Lib Dems will introduce 5 new green laws, should be no fossil fuel tax breaks


Food Quick fire question 1:  Do you support the production and consumption of GM food in the UK? Yes/No

 

Yes: LMB Ind, BH Cons, 2% audience

No: DT Greens, SB Lib Dems, OL Labour, JD UKIP, 98% of audience


Food Quick fire question 2: Do supermarkets’ pay a fair price for milk?

Yes/No

All said no, plus 99% of the audience, although there were comments that this question was no black and white


Food Quick fire question 3: Is freeganism acceptable (saving good, but ‘expired’, food/other items from landfill by taking from, for instance, supermarket skips)?

Yes/No

100% of the candidates said yes, plus 98% of the audience, although there were some queries about whether people should be eating expired food, and best before date type definitions


Food Long question 4: What do you understand by the term ‘sustainable food’?

 

DT Greens: Can be produced without petrochemicals & factory farming of cattle etc. Issue with runoffs from fields

BH Cons: food not produced in a wasteful manner and hot harmful to the environment, end CAP payments for over-production

LMB Ind: promote organics food, allotments and grow your own

JD UKIP: big fan of eating locally produced organic food – tastes better. Would like to create economic and regulatory environment for more local food production, particularly to help small producers around Bath

JSB Lib Dems: how it is produced, provided and consumed. Use of pesticides, water use, food miles, would like to see more urban food growing of which he has experience, avoid processed food

OM Labour: minimum environmental impact, would like supermarket quotas for example to sell a minimum of 15% local food


Food Long question 5: How will your party support the production and consumption of local food?

LMB Ind: supporter of farm shops and encouraging kids in school to understand food and to eat healthily, education of young people important

SB Lib Dem: B&NES Lib Dem Council Food Strategy. B&NES Food Recycling, Covered by one of Lib Dems National 5 Green Laws

JD UKIP: local food => committed to small local businesses, should encourage reduction in laws around food (esp. EU) should reduce waste

OM Labour: quotas on supermarkets selling 15% local food, small local businesses at disadvantage to large supermarkets

DT Greens: would force public sector bodies to buy food locally, discourage food miles, measure waste coming out of supermarkets

BH Cons: in response to a comment from OM or DT about non-local authority schools i.e. academies not sourcing local food, said he was a school governor of an academy which buys food locally. Has campaign or bill to ‘buy local shop local’(?)

Audience:

  1. Pointed out history of Milk Marketing board and its dissolution by Margaret Thatcher which was a root cause of many of these problems
  2. In French supermarkets at the moment, there is a government backed ugly fruit campaign
  3. Ugly fruit caused by EU regulation, plus warming about TTIP

Transport Quick fire question 1: Should VAT and fuel duty by applied to aviation fuel?  Yes/No

No:        JD UKIP + 3% of audience

Yes:        all other candidates plus 95% of audience


Transport Quick fire question 2: Do you support the A36/A46 link road? Yes/No

No: DT – Greens, OM Labour, plus 50% of audience

Yes: other candidates, plus 50% of audience

 


Transport Quick fire question 3: Given current air pollution has been above EU limits for more than 10 years and is unchanged in that time.

Should Bath follow London in proposing a city centre low emissions zone?

Yes/No

No – JD UKIP

Yes – all other candidates


Transport Quick fire question 4: Should Bath city centre be a completely vehicle free zone?

 

SB Lib Dems: Defined an area: historic core from Southgate in south to top of Milsom Street, Queens Square to Bog Island

DT Greens: support, but allow invalids, shared electric delivery vehicles and optimisation

JD UKIP: No, economy too dependent on motor car, if you ask ordinary people (i.e. not those at the Hustings) they want to use their cars to travel into town

OM Labour: only in the long term, but needs alternative i.e. public transport, cycling, walking first so car usage not required

BH Cons: Supportive, now especially that the Mineral Hospital is moving from the centre of town

LMB Ind: yes, but restrict delivery times, shared deliveries, but need support for invalids


Transport Long question 5: Do you believe that Bath’s transport ‘problems’ e.g. traffic congestion, air quality, unattractiveness of cycling etc., can be ‘solved’ without demand management measures targeting car journeys?

What measures if any will your party introduce?

 

OM Labour: reduce cars on road, too many in city centre, but lack of alternatives, committed to London like local control of transport for Bath – integrated policy, fare setting authority for buses

DT Greens: more buses, stupid that bus prices > car parking prices. Nationalise buses. Segregated cycle lanes

JD UKIP: we shouldn’t dictate how people travel; concerned about air quality, too many diesel and not enough petrol vehicles

LMB Ind: reduce bus fares, break up First bus monopoly, Eastern Park and Ride plus A36/A46 link road needed, but requires central government funding

SB Lib Dems: can’t have more cars in town, need alternatives hence Lib Dems B&NES council first Transport Strategy for Bath; Need Park & Rail with 4 minute journey time into Bath and A36/A46 relief road

BH Cons: segregated cycle paths, oyster card to reduce bus fares, new Corsham and Saltford stations, A36/A46 link road

Audience:

  1. Upset with First Bus, not running on time, paying too much
  2. The reality is, according to surveys that 70% of people want to either walk or cycle in Bath

 


Climate/Policy/Politics Quick fire question 1: Which of these do you think should not be built in the greenbelt? (more than one answer ok)

•        Large housing developments

•        Wind turbines

•        Solar PV farms

 

Answers in positive not in negative as posed by question:

LMB Ind: happy with wind turbines in greenbelt, housing should be on brownfield sites first

SB Lib Dems: need more housing: not in favour of housing in the greenbelt, happy with window turbines but solar PV only on grade 3 agricultural land or below

OM Labour: brownfield site lose or use policy to stop land-banking. Happy with wind or solar in greenbelt

DT Greens: Happy with wind and solar in green belt, ?????

JD UKIP: no building on greenbelt until all brownfield sites used up, policy to reduce building cost by reducing regulation, need to preserve green countryside

BH Cons: doesn’t want South Stoke housing, would defy Conservative whip on building in the countryside, need strategic protection of AONB etc.


Climate/Policy/Politics Quick fire question 2: Climate Change

•Do you believe it is man-made? Yes/No

•Is it realistic to limit global warming to 2 degrees? Yes/No

•Do you trust the IPCC’s projections? Yes/No

  1. All said yes it was man-made apart from JD UKIP who said he couldn’t answer yes or no
  2. All said it was no realistic to limit global warming to 2C, SB commented it ‘was too late’

 


Climate/Policy/Politics Long question 3: Do you believe that infinite economic growth is possible?

Should GDP be the primary measure of the UK’s success, or should we consider other measures like ‘happiness’ or the ‘quality of life’?

 

JD UKIP: Infinite growth not possible. West ‘in pickle’ with wealth creation. GDP is a measure, but too difficult to measure, ‘the best things in life are free’. However being short of money can bring misery

 

LMB Ind: would like life to be all about happiness and quality of life but need money to survive

 

OM Labour: yes, growth important, cost of living crisis, not everyone feel growth, should only look at other measures once you get rid of poverty

 

SB Lib Dems: no infinite economic growth, Lib Dem manifesto Zero Waste Act, GDP measures wrong things e.g. War. Advocate of complementary alternative currency

 

BH Cons: money doesn’t bring happiness, David Cameron supports happiness and quality of life indexes

 

DT Greens: infinite growth not possible, it’s the fault of the right wing press, no to GDP as a measure it’s meaningless

 

Audience:

  1. GDP assumes economic growth – it’s a false measure
  2. Local industry, sustainability, connection between local energy and the economy
  3. Comment about Ben’s views being different or distant from parties, but would that be the reality as an MP?

 


Climate/Policy/Politics Long question 4:

There is concern that secretive industry lobbying is unhealthy for democracy and the environment. Also politicians who derive outside income from these industries, or who move direct from government to take up directorships or secretive party donations from this industry, distort scientific evidence and rational economic analysis.

How will your party address these issues?

OM Labour: It’s an issue, but labour funded by members and trade union only, so democratic. Ed Miliband committed to ending second jobs for MPs

LMB Ind: most important job should be that of being an MP not a second job, lobbying is disgusting, shouldn’t be a backdoor, as an independent it shouldn’t be an issue

SB Lib Dems: politics is increasingly expensive, limit donations to £10K, no second jobs, clarity on voting arrangements e.g. Ben and foxhunting

JD UKIP: billions spent on EU lobbying, EU regulations written by donors, want more local control

BH Cons: Conservatives and Lib Dems introduced Lobbying Bill, doesn’t like second jobs, doing just the MPs job is challenging enough, union money isn’t clean, supports right to recall

DT Greens: sad truth ‘money buys votes’ – advocated public funding of political parties (audience support at this point)

Audience

  1. Public funding. Political lobbying destroys democracy, should be illegal. Industry lobbying of EU limited, have spent 7 year working with EU on better consumer rights. EU has a smaller bureaucracy than some London borough

 


Climate/Policy/Politics Long question 5: Preamble: We all know that before the last election, David Cameron proclaimed that his government would be “THE GREENEST GOVERNMENT EVER“. We are all aware of what has happened, and have heard of David Cameron’s statement that he can’t be bothered with all that GREEN CRAP.

What are the environmental policies you hold most important and would you vote against your party on policies that went against your principles?

 

BH Cons: Disappointed in David Cameron’s ‘Green Crap’ argument, has worked with Zac Goldsmith on reducing pollution around the Heathrow area. Accountability, right to recall

LMB Ind: as an independent has freedom to vote on anything. Would favour Bath only. Clean cheaper public transport. UK should be worldwide eco-friendly example

SB Lib Dem: a. Energy b. move away from 6 big energy companies c. micro-generating local energy companies b. transport. Yes, would vote against party. Would not support fracking, nuclear power and weapons, badger culls

JD UKIP: don’t believe main party promises, maintain green spaces, countryside, clean air, rubbish. As a UKIP MP won’t be subject to party whip

DT Greens: would vote against party a. personal tradable carbon quotas b. insulate homes c. energy into local public buildings (????)

OM Labour: a. climate change (lead global fight) b. decarbonisation of electricity production by 2030 c. renewables and transport question


Audience Question: Is tactical voting legitimate:

 

DT Greens: if you vote for main parties you get a right wing government

OM Labour: tactical voting doesn’t work, particularly voting Lib Dem

LMB Ind: will standby principles, voting independent, will stand by Bath

BH Cons: people shouldn’t vote tactically, and would support anti-fracking bill

JD UKIP: first past post voting system is the root cause of the problem

SB Lib Dems: need more Lib Dem MPs, Lib Dems want Proportional Representation, voters should take view on individual candidates. A vote for anyone else would make Ben Howlett MP (lots of audience disapproval for this point)

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