Open letter of opposition to the Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16

We the undersigned demand that the Prime Minister reconsider his commitment to the Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16. As the Prime Minister is aware, the Bill will fundamentally change the housing landscape of the UK. While this is clearly the intention, as academics involved in housing, planning and urban policy, we believe the proposals will do little or nothing to allieviate the housing crisis, while likely exacerbating it. Amongst our greatest concerns are plans to: · Significantly reduce the number of genuinely affordable homes which, while providing 'Starter Homes' to a select few, will leave a great many more worse off. · Require councils to subsidise Housing Associations Right to Buy discounts, with no guarantee of replacement homes at similar rents in the same area. · Introduce means testing and ‘Pay to Stay’ deals if household income reaches above £30,000 (£40,000 in London), radically undermining the stability of mixed communities and disinsentivising work. · Discriminate against Gypsies and Travellers by reducing potential housing sites. · Abolish lifetime tenancies, ensuring that council tenants will not be able to plan their lives any further than five years into the future. Decades of rigorous study into housing provision around the world suggests that these proposals will, fuel rising housing costs, diminish local government resources, fatally undermine alternatives to market based housing provision and ultimately increase the displacement of vulnerable communities and elevate eviction rates. This is not a solution to a housing crisis, but instead an accelerant that, in the process of changing the housing landscape, will devastate communities and families across the country. Signatories Dr Alex Rhys-Taylor – Goldsmiths, University of London Dr Isaac Marrero Guillamon – Goldsmiths, University of London Dr Emma Jackson – Goldsmiths University of London Prof Les Back – Goldsmiths University of London Dr David Madden – London School of Economics Prof Caroline Knowles – Goldsmiths, University of London Dr Anamik Saha – Goldsmiths, University of London Dr Michaela Benson – Goldsmiths, University of London Prof Roger Burrows – University of Newcastle Dr William Davies – Goldsmiths University of London

Activists call for Climate Justice for Peace

with lots of videos and photos! Why do old people plant trees? As Bowie and Alan Rickman's passing has reminded us, what we leave for future generations is all that remains of us after we are gone. Many of us marched in London to mark the start of the COP21 talks on the 29th November 2015, as a top campaign priority. Here's my video of the March:
I have recently recovered from 2 weekends of drinking and fighting for climate justice in Paris... My first weekend was with Oil Vay! The UK's leading Jewish community divestment campaign. Here are a few of my photos and videos I put online.Paris trips with coalition21 and Oil Vay Attendees included Hannah President of UJS, students from around the country, and Paul Cohen whose notable achievements include being London Young Greens co-chair as a jobshare with Charlene. We were joined by a Rabbi and Imam from the Board of Deputies and a few Americans.  I met people from the Global South who made me feel very guilty, but also taught me how to communicate with young people about the issue.

 My second week also featured Paul Cohen, in the form of meetings at the Paris Green Party's office, and a big party on Saturday night. Our hosts included "Lou Lou" from facebook who was busy co-ordinating our international peaceful protest and regional elections on the same weekend. I had been working long and hard on skype, emails and facebook, towards this moment. For instance it was this group and people of all faiths that was behind the Pope's strong statement to the world. I feel that the Paris attacks made it even more important for us to stand alongside and demonstrate. The planning and execution was remarkable, and culminated in the "red lines" action. Here in London, airport expansion and road-building are our red lines that our Mayoral candidate says she expects Labour not to cross if they can count on her second vote. Meanwhile the largest and most complex international agreement took place on the outskirts of Paris. The climate campaign means different things to different people and I respect that. I think we need to educate some of the new members who joined due to our social policies, how we all depend on the climate. For one thing I was annoyed people walked on the grass which is against the rules in Paris and damages it, despite my protests. Here's the Young Greens debrief (video)
And Joan's very clear explanation
 On the Eurostar home I met a veteran environmentalist who said this: (video)
And Natalie gave me this optimistic reaction: (video)
My finest moment? snapping the pen in half of a fraudulent charity mugger at the Eiffel Tower. She was livid! Whilst I paid much of my own expenses, with the help of other groups, our friend Paul was one of a group whose trip was subsidised and organised by the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG for short). I bumped into so many people I knew from activism! Our veteran friend Martyn from Croydon made an appearance. They are already planning for next year's climate mobilisation with the Global Young Greens. Do check out their websites for more info.

 Ben Samuel was London Young Greens social secretary last year and the Green Party's General Election candidate for Hendon and Barnet's housing spokesperson.  He now serves on the Green Party's policy committee and is co-founding Jewish Greens.  He tweets at @filosofical_140