Sunday, 29 November 2015

Another Hospital Case

Letter to the Wanstead & Woodford and Waltham Forest Guardians

26 November 2015

Dear Sir

The Green Party wholly supports the campaign to prevent the closure of the convalescent Heronwood and Galleon wards in Makepeace Road, Wanstead. However we are somewhat mystified that this issue need be referred to The Secretary of State for Health, as the issue appears to be a no brainer.

It seems that the Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) a body which is supposed to be responsible for the delivery of appropriate medical services in our borough, in the face of opposition from patients; residents; a unified, cross-party council and an excellence rating, is hell-bent on condemning Heronwood and Galleon wards to extinction. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, Redbridge CCG is intent on centralising the rehabilitation services of these centres of excellence, with high patient satisfaction at King George Hospital in Goodmayes – which is still in special measures for poor standards of care!

However if that isn’t disconcerting enough, once those wards have gone, we are sure that it will be a matter of time before the blood testing and physiotherapy units on the site are next under threat. Then, as the whole of that prime site is cleared and the plot of this ridiculous and predictable drama is played out, it looks as though the stage will be set to pave the way for yet another property developer waiting in the wings.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Lead Speaker
Green Party

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Food for thought

Letter to the Wanstead & Woodford and Waltham Forest Guardians

Monday 24 August 2015

Dear Sir

There are many people, in and around our fairly affluent borough, who are going hungry these days. Your readership may not be aware of this scandalous state of affairs, so we would like to bring it to their attention.

The Indices of Deprivation 2010 - a study of the causes of deprivation - showed that Redbridge and Waltham Forest, as well as Barking & Dagenham and Newham were ranked in the top 50 of 326 local authorities in England on at least one of these indicators. So, what are the underlying causes of deprivation? We're looking at a lack of education, skills & training, all of which constitute a barrier to employment opportunities and thereby income; ill health & disability, shortages of social housing and services, as well as the spectre of crime. All of these are factors which contribute to a reliance on the need for genuine care in the community. That study was published in 2010. In 2015 the situation has far from improved.

Having no financial safety-net, coupled with a sudden crisis, such as a bereavement, delay in receiving benefits, redundancy and/or long-term illness may unexpectedly leave anyone unable to afford food for themselves and their families. Such situations can quickly deteriorate and lead to relationship breakdowns, housing repossessions and worse.

In view of all this we sincerely hope that our local councils will meet the funding needs of what have now become the desperately necessary foodbanks in Ilford and Leytonstone.

Yours faithfully

Ashley Gunstock Redbridge Green Party Lead Speaker

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Speech to The Wanstead Society Hustings - Saturday 25 April 2015

Hello. Some of you may know me. My name is Ashley Gunstock and I’ve lived, campaigned and stood for The Green Party in the Leyton & Wanstead area, since 1998.

Therefore, although I don’t represent one of the so-called ‘major’ parties, I hope that you will listen to what I have to say, in the next couple of minutes, because I’m going to simply cut to the chase about what exactly is going on in this room today.

We now have a centre right; a centre left and a centre left/right, left right party fighting for our votes, using all sorts of cynical political incentives to get into power. Labour, which mostly keeps banging on about how it’s going to save the NHS and introduce slightly fairer taxation, may merely cut just slightly less than the Conservatives & Liberal Democrats, who have lost all credibility after their 5 years of appalling coalition government. But Labour will, along with the others, continue with one insane austerity programme or another. And of course we have UKIP, with its two major media spotlight policies on Immigration and The EU which, no matter how it dresses itself up, is the party for right-wing protest and cannot really be taken as a viable option.

And so now for some common sense. The Green Party, believe it or not, is not just about the environment. Environmentalism is the ideology from which our policies stem, just as socialism was for the Labour Party; Liberalism was for the Democrats and Capitalism has always been for the Conservatives, until fairly recently now that the others have jumped on the bandwagon. Yet Environmentalism is the overarching umbrella for genuine socialism, true liberal thought and honest (not rampant) enterprise. We believe that our governments have, for far too long, been taking us in completely the opposite direction to the way we should be heading. The Greens would not cut but invest in keeping and creating jobs in the Education, renewable energy, home building and public transport sectors, as well as The NHS – in short, recreate that little old concept of a true & just society. And it is all possible and affordable.

The Green Party has – for the last 45 years – and will continue to put pressure on our governments, to do what is ideally right for us all. We have been successful in no small measure to date. We have been growing in influence at all levels of government and, with the recent Green surge, are growing in large numbers too. In addition to all of the above we also insist on the electorate being given the opportunity of exercising its democratic right, to vote on a referendum on the ‘UK in or out of Europe’ question. So, instead of accepting the ‘same old, same old’, join us and register a worthwhile vote of protest for a real alternative and change for the better. Vote Green on 7 May. Thank you.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Speech to The Waltham Forest NUT Hustings - Tuesday 31 March 2015

Education, education, education. Educating Essex, Educating Yorkshire, Educating East London...well Walthamstow, actually. It’s getting so that the only recognition Education gets these days is when it’s packaged in a reality television show!

Lessons will be learned. How many times have you heard that old mantra? Lessons will be learned. Oh no they won’t, not judging by the performance of this and previous governments, stretching back for well over a quarter of a century. Almost all of their Secretaries of State for Education’s end of term reports would read: Can and must do better!”

I have been teaching, in primary, secondary, higher education and Special Educational Needs schools since 1989 and am, at present, working at a Pupil Referral Unit; so I believe that I know the state of Education. And I am sure that you’ll agree that the pressure to deliver it has been rapidly increasing for some time. And we all know why. This most vital of subjects – the gateway to all of our personal, social, intellectual and environmental understanding – is being interfered with by politicians who think that they know what’s best for it, have their own personal agenda or simply pay lip-service to it and are not bold enough to pay the money necessary to fund this most essential of public services. Education, which should be a life-long experience, is used by governments as the political football of choice, which they just keep kicking into the touch, because they’re so out of touch.

Teachers, for too long now, have been over-burdened, under-valued and under-paid and Education, instead of being the acquisition of knowledge, on which you were once tested, has now virtually become an exercise in showing pupils how to pass exams for irrelevant and unreflective league tables. Yet teachers, who have to fight for everything that should be their right, in reality, spend more hours outside of their regular school day: planning, preparing, assessing, marking, setting exams, covering lessons, attending staff meetings, being forced to achieve ever rising targets and held accountable - not only by management but also at Parents’ Evenings for the, on average, 150 pupils they have to teach each day – by not just a few demanding or disinterested mothers and/or fathers. And they’re all the while being told that they must do more work for less pay, or risk losing their jobs to younger, less experienced employees, often from The New World, who have fewer responsibilities and less expenditure.

Nevertheless our most recent governments have insisted that the professionals – running the bankrupt and bailed-out London based banking institutions – must be well paid, because of their high level financial responsibilities and ‘expertise’. So I find it appalling that teachers, especially in London, don’t get the fair pay that they need and deserve, to do their job of work to the best of their ability, without added financial pressure. After all they provide a far greater return for the money!

Therefore it’s time to turn the tables (league or otherwise) with a radical shake-up and put pressure on the powers that be at Westminster. And you now have the means to do it. There is a credible, vibrant and growing political party which values Education and the teachers who provide it and whose Education policy is virtually the same as The NUT’s.

That party is The Green Party, which believes that the profession should be put back into the hands of educators to manage and that if you want a good quality service then it has to be paid for! So give the tired old parliamentary parties a good run for your money at the forthcoming General Election and vote Green on 7 May!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Real Deficit

Can you imagine David Cameron in your local Argos? Flicking through the laminated pages, until he’s found the best deal on a new kettle. Getting agitated by the non-responsive stock checker as he tries to accurately punch the code in. Then negotiating the tiny pencils with his saveloy fingers. He might become quite distressed by the whole process, but I could relate to him more.

Which is why politicians do such stunts; it’s a good photo opportunity to get amongst ‘the public’, to show that you’re connected and just one of the blokes. Look at me: down the pub; smoking a fag; going for a jog; eating a bacon sandwich; standing in my kitchen, riding a bike or [readers, feel free to add your own cliché gestures here].

We know it’s all PR, but do we know how much professional politicians are actually bothered about the rest of us? And how it feels at the sharp end of the austerity cuts these last four years? I would venture to say not a huge amount. The rest of us humans just seem to get in the way of the politicians’ love affair with the free market and keeping the economy ticking over. Bunch of inconveniences we are! If only we’d stop moaning on and just suffer in silence.

However, I would also venture to say this isn’t because they’re evil or malicious, or whatever label is easy to affix. It is because they lack, or have lost, the capacity to empathise. Empathy is the art of stepping into someone else’s shoes, assimilating their feelings, then reassessing your own point-of-view. It’s easy to make brutal decisions about other people’s lives if you’re so detached as to see them as ‘other’. When running a country comes down to reducing people to numbers it’s not the budget deficit, but the empathy deficit, we should worry about.

The empathy deficit is more than just hyperbole. The great divide that runs through British society is the inequality between rich and poor. In 2011 research by Scientific America showed that the richer you are the less empathetic you are likely to be. Perhaps not a problem? Surely the wealthiest form only a minor percentage of our society... Well it just so happens that such a wealthy elite makes up our government. In 2013 the combined wealth of the cabinet was £70 million, with powerful figures such as Cameron, Osborne, Hunt and Hammond owning £4m, £4.6m, £4.8m and £8.2m respectively. Unfortunately the shadow cabinet - with seven millionaires - aren’t much better. To quote Krznaric in his book Empathy – A Handbook for Revolution: “There is nothing like wealth to make you insensitive to human deprivation and suffering!”

Of course I have a biased perspective, but allow me to point out that I don’t know anyone who has joined the Green Party in search of power and riches! We’re regular people (mostly) getting on with our lives and I believe we have a much stronger capability to empathise with those around us, because we are those members of ‘the public’ which professional politicians play out their pantomime with. Yes, we are in a political party and this is because, if we feel something is rotten, we feel strongly convicted to speak out against it. This isn’t a special privilege; it’s what I want everyone to feel they are also able to do. Most people grossly underestimate their power to do good and, if there’s one thing I want to achieve from this election campaign, it’s for us all to wake up and reclaim our lives!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Greens join Stand Up to Racism Demonstration: Austerity Project to Blame for Rise in Social Friction

Marking UN Anti- Racism Day on Saturday 21st March, members of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party joined the demonstration Stand Up to Racism (1) in Central London. The demonstration ended with a rally in Trafalgar Square where Green Party leader Natalie Bennett was among the speakers.

Ms Bennett said: “At a time when racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks are on the increase in the UK, it is heartening that people are prepared to stand up and be counted in the fight against racism. Events like this should make us proud of who we are and what we stand for. We must, and shall, be vigilant against racism. Protecting people’s rights should be at the centre of our national identity.”

Sadly, there has been a rise in racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism across Europe as immigrants are often scapegoated in times of economic hardship. In this country we have seen the rise of hard right parties like UKIP who seek to blame immigrants for problems they did not cause.

By scapegoating the poorest people in society for the problems created by the richest, the government has been able to impose austerity, and immigrants have been the principal target.. The Green Party is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and opposes hate-based behaviour, whether directed at people because of their faith, nationality, race, sexual orientation - or just hatred of 'the other' (2).

“We need to send out a clear message that we will not tolerate racism and the hard right by voting for progressive parties like the Green Party in the forthcoming general election,” said Leyton & Wanstead Green parliamentary candidate Ashley Gunstock. “Too often immigrants and the most vulnerable are being made to suffer for the failure of an unjust economic system,” he added.



Editors’ Notes

1) 2)


For further information contact:

Diana Korchien Press Officer Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party

M: 07747 014 235 T: (0)20 8539 8547

53 Scarborough Road London E11 4AL

Diana Korchien Press Officer, Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party

Tel: 020 8539 8547 Mob: 07747 014 235

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Cutting words

Budget Day thoughts from Sarah-Jane Childs, our Leyton & Wanstead Constituency Campaign Manager

One of the beauties of the English language is its malleability; you may bend it to your will as you see fit. And then let’s not also forget its variety; it is often claimed to have one of the richest vocabularies amongst today’s global modern languages. So for a professional politician our language could present itself as a tool of great opportunity to really explain and illuminate all their policies; to reveal the hidden mechanics of ruling our nation; to create a truly informed electorate where everyone actually wants to vote because they are so engaged and proud of our political system.

Now I’m not so naive of politics to think that manipulation of English language would only be used for the power of good, but some days some spin leaves you spinning. A recent example would be Grant Shapps and his second job saga, where he now defends himself by saying he “over firmly denied” his former additional occupation. Most of us would surely translate this phrase back into simplified English as “lying”. But to steal the spotlight from Grant, a true artist of doublespeak approaches, no less than the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

George Osborne won’t be saying the word “cuts” much this budget day, unless it’s one of the many shiny baubles such as “tax cuts” (although even then, I bet he opts for “tax breaks” or “relief” for you poor “hard-working people”) which he will produce to lure the undecided toward the polling station come May. Instead, there will be a lot of “realignment, efficiency savings, redesign, reorganise, de-designate, rationalise...” But look through this smokescreen and one very clear word emerges: CUTS. And a hell of a lot more cuts too, as he intends to stick with his plans seemingly based on his grossly distorted version of reality. Not my own personal economic analysis there mind, but that of the Office for Budget Responsibility who, to describe the future cuts, chose a very descriptive adjective from our language which I hope grips your imagination and screams in both ears how big these cuts will be. The word? COLOSSAL.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Boris’s Bollocks

Letter London Evening Standard

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dear Mr Neicho

So it appears that Mayor Boris Johnson’s dismissive “bollocks” response to last year’s claims by top experts that Oxford Circus, the country’s famous shopping street, harboured some of the worst pollution on the planet was correct. There are some in Britain’s other 49 pollution hotspots which are even worse - and they are all in London, the capital which Mr Johnson presides over! (London pollution: 50 worst spots in UK for air filth are ALL in the capital – Evening Standard, 05 March 2015)

It appears that Boris Bikes alone are not the answer. So might I suggest - as one who cycles through East London to work - that improving access for cyclists; not scrapping the congestion charge and giving commuters a break from extortionate fare rises would allow us all to breathe a little more fresh air. Now that would be the bollocks!

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock

Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Leyton & Wanstead

Greasy Palms Lining trouser pockets

Letter to The Wanstead & Woodford Guardian and The Ilford Recorder

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Dear Sirs

I write with regard to the Redbridge Local Plan 2015-2030.

Am I alone in thinking that the entire consultation is seriously flawed?

In my view the whole exercise smacks of lazy and ill thought out housing provision planning. We have simply been offered four alternative sites, in four different areas of Redbridge, which in itself is highly divisive. On what grounds (if you’ll excuse the pun) were they chosen?

In the first place it appears that no audit has been carried out, to ascertain how many brownfield and windfall sites there are and in what locations these may be throughout the borough. Secondly it seems that no thought has been given to the infrastructure that will be needed in order to cater for the influx of extra residents that will be coming to Redbridge. Has anyone in the council considered the Health, Education and Transport provision required or, indeed, what leisure facilities will be available – especially as it looks as though yet more Green Belt will be giving way to bricks & mortar? Thirdly, even though the Mayor has set a target of 50% for new housing developments, it has been established that only 12.5% of the proposed homes will be affordable.

Furthermore, how much will Redbridge be paid by the developers of the borough’s prime Green Belt land? This will naturally have to be de-classified and, therefore, sold off for millions of pounds less than its actual worth. Taking all things into consideration, if I were a cynic, I would beg the question: Whose greasy palms are being crossed and trouser pockets lined, with the silver & gold from the public purse?

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock

Green Party Prospective Candidate for Leyton & Wanstead

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Green thanks

Wanstead & Woodford Guardian Letters, 12 June 2014

Dear Sir

On behalf of my colleagues and myself I would like to thank all those electors in Redbridge who voted for The Green Party, at the recent Council and European elections.

Contrary to the thoughts of some, a vote for The Greens is not wasted. By voting for us you send a clear message to the other parties about your deepest concerns. In turn these parties are aware that the votes in contention can be the difference between them winning or losing elections and are stirred to act.

Furthermore – besides having many councillors nationwide, two members on the GLA at City Hall, an MP in the Commons and a peer in The House of Lords at Westminster – we now have three representatives in The European Parliament. This, no matter what people may think of some of the ‘shenanigans’ in Brussels, can only bode well for the future.

In view of this we look forward to having your continuing support, in order that we may further enhance our political profile.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Lead Speaker
Green Party

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Wake up and smell the carbon

The Observer Letters to the Editor 25 September 2013


So in the face of what Lord Stern has stated is 95% of scientific evidence informing us that “human activities are driving climate change,” a recent survey shows that the number of people who do not believe this has now risen from 5% in 2005 to 19% to date. ("Scientists give their starkest warning yet on climate change", front page, last week).

Unfortunately what these Climate Change sceptics, deniers & liars are expecting is that someone will soon come up with ‘the technological fix’ which will solve what is a multi-facetted problem. What is not being realised or accepted is that the technology already exists – in the form of renewable energies – and that what is missing is the global social & political will and framework to employ them. So, in truth, what is really being hoped for is divine intervention.

Nevertheless the maxim which has oft been quoted tells us that ‘God helps those who help themselves’. Therefore we had all better wake up and smell the carbon and accept that we are, in the face of irrefutable evidence, in great part, responsible for the drastic changes in our climate and required to invest in the necessary measures to change our fossil fuelled behaviour pattern to a truly sustainable lifestyle. Either that or we will all just simply have to pray harder.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Leading Spokesperson
Green Party - Redbridge

Friday, 21 September 2012

In The Nick of Time?

Wanstead Police Station - Nigel Cox

Letter to The Wanstead & Woodford Guardian and The Ilford Recorder

Dear Sir

The Green Party endorses the Snaresbrook Conservative Group’s campaign, to ensure that Wanstead Police Station is kept open.

Nevertheless this important local resource has been constantly under threat of closure, in order that policing for the borough maybe centralised at Ilford Police Station, as this coalition and previous governments have continued to make cuts to frontline services.

In view of this we suggest that Councillors Cummins, Goody & Nolan should perhaps make representations to Mayor Boris Johnson at the GLA and ask him to have word with Messrs. Cameron & Osborne, to advise them that removing investment from local policing services is in no way helpful in reducing rising crime rates and maintaining law & order.

Yours faithfully

Ashley Gunstock
Lead Speaker
Green Party of Redbridge