Our Money – Our Choice

The recent decision by the government to override Lancashire County Council’s decision to deny planning permission for fracking on the Fylde had an effect on the community outside of the dreadful environmental  issues.  As a result of the decision made by the government Lancashire County Council will be asked to contribute to the costs of the enquiry held earlier this year.  There is speculation that the amount will be in the region of £330,000.  Given the authority’s already straitened circumstances after having to deal with the austerity measures of successive governments, this is money that the County Council can ill afford.

The government’s action has effectively added insult to injury in that the money that the Council is expected to pay out in costs could far better have been spent on the people of Lancashire.  One instance immediately springs to mind, is that the money could have been spent on improving flood defences.  Flooding in some areas of the county has been the worst in the country.  Extreme weather conditions have been the cause of the flooding and the extreme weather conditions are occurring because of climate destabilisation caused by the burning of fossil fuels.  Shale gas is a fossil fuel and the burning of it will only increase climate destabilisation and consequent flooding.  The irony of the situation is that the government is effectively making the council pay out money so that shale gas companies can further endanger the lives and properties of people living in Lancashire.  Are we happy that our money, the money essentially belonging to the people of Lancashire, is spent in such a way?  Most   of us would undoubtedly like the money to be spent in a more constructive way.

Money and the making of it is, of course, the driving force behind the industry.   Are we, the people, happy that certain banks are investing our money in the shale gas industry and therefore further encouraging the development of fracking?   Next week, on Friday, 28th October 2016, supporters of KELFF (Keep East Lancashire Frack Free) will be in Rawtenstall, appropriately enough in Bank Street, speaking to members of the public about the dangers of fracking.  They will be handing out literature and asking people to consider with whom they bank.  For instance, it is well known that Barclays Bank owns a 97% share of the gas company Third Energy  which is the company currently trying to establish fracking in North Yorkshire.  Taking the funding away from the fracking companies is one way of ensuring that fracking is not begun in Lancashire or anywhere else.

Francis Egan, the CEO of Cuadrilla, the company hoping to start drilling at the site on the Fylde, has been quoted as saying that the decision to approve fracking in Lancashire was ‘perfectly democratic’ although the reasoning behind his statement is not apparent.   The word democracy comes from the Greek : “δημοκρατία” and in Greek means the ‘rule of the commoners’.  A duty to promote democracy is fundamental to our education system and forms part of our ‘British Values’.  Through the County Council the people, the commoners, had their say and they said that they did not want fracking in the County.  Through local councils, petitions, blogs and websites the people are continuing to have their say.  They are saying that they do not want fracking in Lancashire, in the UK or anywhere in the world and their voices are in the majority.  Therefore, Francis Egan saying that the decision was democratic is untenable.   More importantly, overriding the County Council does not say much for the government’s idea of democracy and begs the question as to what form of democracy is being taught in our schools and colleges.

However, we are not defeated.  The one thing the people can do is decide where and how their money is spent.  Come along to the KELFF stall on Friday 28th October, 2016 between 11.30am and 1.30pm and talk about the measures we can take to carry on the fight against fracking.

If you are unable to join us on Friday 28th October 2016, you may be interested in coming along to Hippings Vale Community Centre, Harvey Street in Oswaldtwistle at 3.00pm on Sunday 6th November 2016.   There will be a film called Groundswell Rising and talk by the filmmaker Mark Lichty from Pennsylvania about Fracking – introduced by Gayzer Frackman and time for Q and A’s.

Hope you can join us and please share.

Jan Smith

Hilary Whitehead

KELFF

October 18th, 2016

Building Bridges

Building Bridges after the Referendum

A statement from Britain Yearly Meeting (Quakers)

“The outcome of the EU referendum and the campaigning that led up to it have shown up and sometimes exacerbated divisions within and between our communities.  There is now a great need for bridge-building, for reaching out to one another in love, trusting that below the political differences lie a shared humanity and a wish for flourishing communities.

Inequalities run deep in society and some are exposed by the vote. Quakers in England, Scotland and Wales are committed to working together and with others – including Quakers across Europe – for a peaceful and just world.  In the coming year our Quaker Yearly Meeting will focus on building movements with others locally and globally. We refuse to prejudge who is or is not an ally.

Turbulent times can be frightening, but the Spirit is a source of strength for all, guiding us in who we are and what we do. We take heart from the knowledge that with change comes opportunity. We will look for creative ways to find common cause, to listen, to influence and to persuade. As the status quo is shaken we and our neighbours must look to one another for support, wisdom and above all ways of healing divisions.”

I personally found this whole referendum difficult to know which way to vote, as there were positives and negatives on both sides. I do not like the agenda of more consolidation of power in fewer hands and would prefer system change, but I voted Remain with the wish that the democracy of the whole would decide for us. So when the Leave vote was dominant in spite of what happened the week before with the death of Jo Cox MP, I was not heartbroken or saddened like many of my environmentalist friends and fellow Green Party members at the result. I felt that it was important to stay calm in the storm of the media onslaught which followed and the ranting against the decision by my husband who is more passionate for the EU than myself. I am more open to change perhaps?Earth Flower of Life