Category Archives: Posted

Mobile Home Owners In Court, Forced From Site Under New Rule Banning Caravans Over 15 Years Old

‘Totally unfair’ Caravan owners go to court as they’re forced from site under new rules

CARAVAN owners near Skegness are taking their local council to court after they were told their vehicles were too old to be on the site.

By FELIX REEVES Thu, Jul 29, 2021

The residents of the Kingfisher Caravan Park in Ingoldmells claim that in October 2019 the council informed people on the site of changes to contracts. This meant that there could be no caravans that were more than 15-years-old on the premises.

As a result of this, more than 100 residents will be taking legal action against East Lindsey District Council.

The council extended the date that the caravans needed to be moved due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, the group says that the council has now set a deadline of the end of the year for certain caravans to be removed.

Steve Wakefield and his wife Kim bought their caravan in 2001 and will be massively affected if the changes go ahead.

The Kingfisher Caravan Park in Ingoldmells.

Speaking to Lincolnshire Live, he said: “It’s totally unfair. I just can’t understand the council’s position at all, and I sometimes wonder if they understand it themselves.

“I don’t think they thought through the implications of it because there’s bits of this site that look like a ghost town now because of the number of people who have left.

“The council didn’t seem to realise how many people would be leaving so quickly because at the end of the 2019 season it looked like a flood of caravans leaving the site – just one after the other.”

The residents say they have been left with “no option” but to take the council to court.

An aerial view of the caravan park, which has already seen caravan owners leave.

The most recent attempt at mediation between the two sides came during a meeting on July 21, but it failed to resolve any issues.

Stuart Allen is representing the residents and says that more than 300 owners and caravans have been removed since being told about the contract change.

He says that some residents felt they had no choice but to sell their vans for scrap, given that they were only informed of the change just three weeks before the end of the 2019 season.

Peter Blackburn, 66, stays on the site with his wife for most of the season, but is considering his future.

He said: “We first came here in 2009 but the current caravan we’re in is one that we bought in 2013 and so it’s eight years old now.

“So we’re a few years off the age limit yet, if it still goes ahead, but another rule the council has is that you can’t sell the caravan privately after ten years so I’m already thinking about what we’ll do.

“All these rules that they have, and the new age limit one that they’re trying to bring in, is all just stress that you don’t need.

“My wife and I bought our caravan as a retirement thing for life that would be our forever home, and now it’s looking as if it might not be.

“She’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer and so I will not be moving the caravan in the immediate future because she loves it down here and I want her to be able to enjoy it.

“If the council was really bothered about the age of the caravans, then they should have done it through a process of natural wastage – where they told residents that they couldn’t pass the caravan on to their kids or whatever.

“But when you’re seeing old couples driving off the site in tears, you know that this can’t be the right way to go about things.”

It could take up to two years for the case to be heard, according to Stuart Allen, as he will be submitting papers against the council soon.

He added that the cost of the court action could rise up to £60,000, with the group having already spent £30,000.

Lloyds Bank sets out new plans to buy 50,000 homes to become UK’s biggest private landlord by 2030

Lloyds Bank sets out new plans to buy 50,000 homes to become UK’s biggest private landlord by 2030

Linda Howard 01 Sep 2021

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/other/lloyds-bank-sets-out-new-plans-to-buy-50000-homes-to-become-uk-e2-80-99s-biggest-private-landlord-by-2030/ar-AANZ5TI

Lloyds Banking Group is reportedly planning to become one of the UK’s biggest landlords, according to the Financial Times.

The banking giant is aiming to buy 50,000 homes in the next 10 years and charge tenants rent as a private landlord. The Financial Times said that Lloyds Banking Group has launched the ‘Citra Living’ brand in an attempt to move into new streams of making money.

Lloyds is the biggest mortgage lender in the UK, providing nearly one in four home loans to prospective buyers, but, with interest rates at historic lows for more than a decade, returns have been squeezed.

The newspaper said an internal job advertisement has set a “strategic challenge” of reaching 10,000 properties by the end of 2025, with a further aim to hit 50,000 by 2030.

Based on current property prices and rental estimates, this would create a portfolio worth £4 billion, generating pre-tax profits of around £300 million.

If the targets are hit, Citra Living will overtake the UK’s current largest private landlord, Grainger, which has 9,100 properties worth around £2.1 billion.

Citra may consider “M&A (mergers and acquisitions) opportunities and/or strategic alliances” to help it reach the targets, the advert added.

Previously, the bank has been cautious on the potential for the new division, with finance chief William Chalmers saying expansion into the private rental market would be “on a limited basis while we explore the area”.

Several big name fund management groups and insurers have entered the private rental market in recent years, including Legal & General and M&G.

And retailer John Lewis recently announced plans to convert unused floor space in its department stores into rental homes.

The switch from small-scale private landlords follows changes in tax rules which mean buy-to-let mortgage payments are no longer tax deductible.

A Lloyds spokesperson said: “As highlighted at launch, Citra Living will initially start small, with a focus on buying and renting good-quality, newly-built properties. This will be achieved by working alongside leading house builders to address the increasing demand for rental properties.

“The aim is to gradually provide incremental stock to the UK rental market over the coming years.”

UK Romany Gypsies: We will not go quietly into the history books

On Romany Holocaust Memorial Day, JAKE BOWERS warns that the new laws now being levelled at Britain’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities by the Police Bill once again threaten an entire people’s way of life

Romani prisoners at Belzec camp, 1940

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/we-will-not-go-quietly-into-the-history-books

TODAY is Romany Holocaust Memorial Day ­ yet ask most lifelong anti-racists what the significance of August 2 is and they will be puzzled.

For our history, just like our plight, remains one of Europe’s dirty secrets.

So come with me, if you will, on a journey into the past of Europe’s 12 million Romany people because we desperately need your help to secure a better future. Because history does not always exactly repeat itself, but in 2021 it is starting to rhyme.

On this day, in 1944, 4,300 Romanies were murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

They were taken during the night from their barracks to the gas chamber by SS guards.

The mass killing was a reprisal on the community who led a desperate uprising at the death camp.

Just months earlier, on May 16, Romany prisoners of the so-called Zigeunerlager (Gypsy camp), having heard of the imminent liquidation of the camp, stood up against the Nazi guards armed with only hammers, pickaxes and shovels.

As a result of their defiance, no Roma died in the gas chambers on that day. The Romany revolt against the Nazis is the only recorded uprising in Auschwitz and is now commemorated as Romani Resistance Day.

We still do not know how many of us died in the Holocaust. Unlike the Jewish community, many of our ancestors could not read or write, so few independent records were kept.

Estimates range from 500,000 to 1.5 million people, their lives and stories are often lost within German statistics of those “remaining to be liquidated.”

We were the only other racial minority alongside the Jewish community specifically subjected to the Nazi “final solution” ­ and a similar percentage of the Romany and Jewish community was eradicated.

But there the parallels end, because what the intervening decades have taught us is that some inequalities are sadly far more equal than others.

So today we will weep for those we lost, but tomorrow we must again pick up the shovels.

Across Europe a mudslide of racist violence is once again engulfing our people. From Hungary to Britain, right-wing governments are once again scapegoating our people ­ and the results can be lethal.

In the Czech Republic, Romany man Stanislav Tomas died in Teplice on June 19 2021, after a Czech police officer knelt on his neck for six minutes.

In images comparable to the murder of George Floyd in the US, the video went viral, prompting Romanies across Europe to protest police violence.

The Czech Republic authorities deny any wrongdoing and the police were praised by the interior minister for their good work.

After the Council of Europe called for an independent investigation, the Czech president said he had no reason to doubt the results of the internal investigation, which found the police officers’ behaviour to be correct.

In New York, Berlin, Brussels, Glasgow, London, Vienna and in countless cities across eastern Europe where Romany populations are big and growing, Romanies are demanding justice for Stanislav and themselves.

Directly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, a Roma Lives Matter movement has seen thousands of Romany people demand better treatment on the streets.

For many of us the end of the Holocaust did not lead to turning point in our treatment and life chances. Those who had survived the Nazis were soon forcibly settled and assimilated into urban deprivation by Stalinist regimes.

In recent decades, the forced sterilisation of Romany women, poverty and over-representation in state care and special schools for Romany kids and deeply ingrained prejudice have kept us moving.

Such racism has led to a huge wave of Romany migration to western Europe. This has led to a doubling of the British Gypsy, Roma and Traveller population to at least 600,000 people.

But Britain is no safe haven. The hostile environment experienced by Britain’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community for over 500 years has recently been cranked up.

Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill not only limits the right to protest, but also seeks to completely outlaw nomadic Gypsy and Traveller culture.

If passed it will entirely eradicate nomadic life in Britain, giving police the power to seize Gypsy and Traveller homes and fine Gypsies and Travellers up to £2,500 ­ and imprison those needing to follow a nomadic way of life because of a lack of safe, legal stopping places.

On July 7 over 1,000 community members gathered in the shadow of the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and suffragette Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square to kick-start the Drive 2 Survive campaign that will roll from Westminster to the Appleby Fair (the world’s largest Gypsy horse fair) in August in Cumbria, to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in October 2021.

Much as Gandhi, Mandela and Fawcett used direct action to fight for equality, Gypsy and Traveller community members will resist the outlawing of our cultures. Our communities have unified to fight the Bill, but we desperately need your help to stop it.

“As nomadic people that have roamed the lands we have lived on for our whole recorded history, to suddenly be told our way of life has no place in society is totally wrong and hurtful,” says Irish Traveller activist Chris McDonagh.

“We all live in a country that is supposedly proud of its acceptance and equality for all ethnicities and minorities, but we now see this is a lie. We are people and we deserve to live our lives as we always have. We deserve to exist.”

The Drive 2 Survive Campaign’s first aim is the scrapping of part four of the Bill that creates a criminal law of trespass and dramatically increases police powers over anyone residing on land that they do not have permission to be on.

We believe that the draconian powers within the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act that already lock nomadic Gypsies and Travellers into a cycle of trespass and eviction and do not need strengthening but repealing.

Patel cannot ignore the fact that police powers are already too excessive. It’s not just Gypsies, Roma and Travellers who are resisting these new powers, but representatives from the National Police Chiefs Council.

In evidence to the committee stage of the Police Bill, the community and the police were united in calling for a better way of resolving the conflict around a lack of stopping places.

The community takes the threat of the new legislation so seriously that it has organised the first Romani Kris (council of elders) in decades to debate and decide a unified response to Patel’s Bill at Appleby.

Hereditary Appleby Fair organiser Billy Welch sees a direct parallel with the state violence that Romany populations were subjected to before the Holocaust, because before the death camps came the outlawing of nomadic life across the Third Reich.

“The people I represent are anxious about these proposals and with good reason. They are reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and the start of the process of ethnic cleansing in which Gypsies were forced off the road by fines and imprisonment.

“Their horses and vehicles were confiscated, which eventually led to them being sent to death camps or murdered on the side of the road.

“There are still many Gypsies alive who lost their families in that Holocaust and they have not forgotten ­ this is how it began.

“All of what was done then was legal in the eyes of the Nazis, but history teaches us clearly that just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right.”

This summer we will show the Conservative Party that we will not go quietly into the history books ­ in fact we will not be going at all.

To show your solidarity with the Drive 2 Survive Campaign, come to Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria between August 12 and 15

attend the National Drive 2 Survive Rally at the time of the Tory Conference in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, at 1pm on Saturday October 2 2021.

Jake Bowers is a Romany journalist. For more information see www.drive2survive.org.uk and www.proudroma.org

Friday 27th to Monday 30th August 2021 – SCOLT HEAD, NORTH NORFOLK COAST – Bank Holiday Camp on disputed land

TLIO Bank Holiday Camp in support of Scolt Head & District Common Rights Holders Association (SH&DCRA)

Friday 27 – Monday 30 August 2021 – SCOLT HEAD, NORFOLK

Bank Holiday camp on disputed land in support of Scolt Head & District Common Rights Holders Association (SH&DCRHA)
http://shdcra.org.uk/objectives/

Scolt Head & District Common Right Holders Grapevine

Traditional common rights on the North Norfolk coast are being eroded in an underhand fashion.

First half hour of Tony’s podcast Friday 27 August 2021 all about Scolt Head commons with Chris Cotton, Stephen Bocking and Pete Bickell

Holkham Estate the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, National Trust, and others keep grabbing common land. They know that commoners risk losing their homes and hundreds of thousands of pounds by taking these land-grabbers to the high court. They have refused to negotiate with those whose traditional legal rights they’re stealing.

We want that to stop. We want to see respect for and restoration of one another’s legal rights, and to see the talking resume.

Please come equipped with tent, rollmat, sleeping bag, kite and anything you’d expect to find. Further details from Tony on 07786 952037

PUBLIC TRANSPORT – train and bus

  • Train to Kings Lynn leaves hourly from Kings Cross £40 return.
    Main other rail connections to Kings Lynn are via Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line, or Ely.
  • Then a five to ten minute walk almost due west through the centre of Kings Lynn to the bus station.
  • Thence the 36 Coastliner bus to Brancaster which leaves at half past the hour and takes about 90 minutes to trundle around the coast to The Ship Hotel, pub, Brancaster for £8.40 return.
  • Now it’s a 20 minute walk from the bus stop. Go about 100 yards back West on the A149 and turn right, north. With St Mary’s Church on your right, head toward the coast up Broad Lane for a little under a mile. That’s a 20-30 minute walk to our camp by the Brancaster Beach Car Park.

Link to more on that 36 ‘Coastliner’ bus, operated by ‘Lynx’. It goes on East via Wells-Next-The-Sea and terminates at Fakenham https://www.lynxbus.co.uk/bus-routes/343536/36/

Local info

If you get lost please call or message Stephen for directions on 07469 233401. We also hope to pin a note, in nearby Brancaster Staithe, on the Fish Shed (local produce shop) nearly opposite the White Horse pub. Fish Shed & White Horse are three bus stops East of The Ship on the A149 coast road.

Why are we on the Scolt Head commons?

The Land Is Ours was founded in the 1990s by XR guru and Guardian columnist George Monbiot. Our aim is to further the public debate over land in an age where private property rights are encroaching on, or enclosing, so many of our valuable shared spaces.

In our towns and cities libraries, pubs, clubs and other places we congregate are being closed, sold off for private use. Anna Minton in her 2012 book ‘Ground Control’ drew attention to the privatisation of city centres through shopping malls, streets formerly patrolled by police, now by private security.

Along the North Norfolk coast private landowners have been extending their boundaries into the Scolt Island commons. Legally they must compensate rights holders if they want to use registered common land but they are refusing to meet local residents or even reply to letters. This disrespect for local laws has proliferated alongside spiralling property prices with wealthy second and third home incomers forcing the younger generation out of the area.

New laws being introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel this Autumn mean gypsies and travellers who have stayed on our roadsides for thousands of years will be criminalised, their homes confiscated, they and their children jailed.

‘The Earth Is A Common Treasury For All’ was the cry of the English Civil War ‘Diggers’, and they were right. Land can never be absolute ‘property’ in the same way as, say, a car or a television. It’s a free gift to mankind and we all need, to a degree, to share it to survive.

Back in the 1990s The Land Is Ours helped start a national debate which led the the Blair government’s Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000).

This time our ambitions are smaller. We simply want to see private landowners along the coast, including the National Trust, show respect for their common right holder neighbours, and for the rule of law.

New Ruling Ends Recent Attempts To Get Wide Anti-Traveller Injunctions

New ruling puts an end to wide anti-Traveller injunctions

12 May, 2021
https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/news/new-ruling-puts-an-end-to-wide-anti-traveller-injunctions/

A landmark ruling today marks the end of wide anti-Traveller injunctions against persons unknown. The judgment harshly criticises the use of wide injunctions as a blanket ban against Gypsies and Travellers who have nowhere to stop.

Charities including Friends, Families and Travellers, London Gypsies and Travellers and the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups who acted as interveners in the case with legal representation from Garden Court Chambers and Community Law Partnership are today celebrating the good news.

Wide injunctions against persons unknown have been used by councils in England to prevent Gypsies and Travellers from stopping on public land since 2015, despite the fact that the majority of councils have failed to identify land for sites and stopping places.

The judgment builds on a previous ruling, which found in January last year that borough-wide injunctions are inherently problematic and they comprise a potential breach of both the [European] Convention [on Human Rights] and the Equality Act.

Responding to the news, Emma Bray, Outreach Worker and Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

Since my early childhood I have always had a feeling of being invisible or a thorn in the foot for councils and officials. With constant evictions and never being consulted on policies that directly affect our lives added to this feeling so todays decision gives me hope for my childrens futures.

In his judgement today, Mr Justice Nicklin ruled that wide injunctions can only be granted against individuals who can be named or properly identified. Councils need to demonstrate they have notified them about the legal proceedings. Secondly, he ruled that wide injunctions cannot apply to anyone who was not notified about the final Court hearing. This means that any Gypsies or Travellers who come on the land at a later date will not be covered by the injunction.

He also highlighted that a significant number of the [] Claims were allowed to go to sleep following the grant of an interim injunction, and no local authority, which had been granted a Traveller Injunction, took steps to return claims to Court for reconsideration following the decisions of LB Bromley and Canada Goose.

Reflecting on the news, Mattey Mitchell, who is Romany and a Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

This is a wonderful victory for justice, fairness and equality in a nation that prides itself on these values. Collective punishment should be a thing of the past, especially when it impacts communities already facing such harsh inequalities. Justice Nicklins judgement today is a breath of fresh air in what can sometimes feel like a hopelessly hostile environment.

At the High Court hearing in January 2021, 13 councils from across England defended their wide injunctions. Friends, Families and Travellers, London Gypsies and Travellers and the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups acted as interveners in the case with legal representation from Garden Court Chambers and Community Law Partnership. Following the judgment today, it is likely that all injunctions against persons unknown will be discharged.

The ruling also has serious implications for the current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which seeks to criminalise the nomadic way of life, and could be used in a legal challenge if the Bill becomes law.

Responding to the news, Abbie Kirkby, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

The inhumane approach of acquiring an injunction against all Gypsies and Travellers has once against been recognised by the courts as being unlawful. We are pleased, as joint interveners in the case, to have had the opportunity to assist the court in understanding the discriminatory and disproportionate nature of these injunctions, which are a symptom of the complete failure by local authorities to identify suitable land on which Gypsies and Travellers can stop. This judgment comes at a particularly crucial time as measures which essentially criminalise encampments are set to be introduced in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. There are common sense solutions to addressing the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers, that work with families, not against them.

Adding to this, Debby Kennett, Chief Executive of London Gypsies and Travellers said:

We are proud to be involved in this hugely important case which scrutinised the catch-all injunctions which have effectively banned Gypsies and Travellers from stopping in large areas of the country. It has been a long process and this final hearing was a result of councils ignoring the Bromley and Canada Goose judgments. They have now been seriously criticised for doing so. The judgment reinforces the fact that Gypsies and Travellers have the right to a nomadic way of life and we continue to push for positive alternatives to evictions and injunctions.

Commenting on the case, Marc Willers QC, Garden Courts Chambers, said:

Mr Justice Nicklins judgment is a tour de force and will be required reading for any lawyer practising in this field. The decision reaffirms the fundamental principle that final injunctions do not bind non-parties. The Judge rejected the submission that injunctions against Gypsies and Travellers were an exception to this rule. The decision also emphasises the need for rigorous compliance with the rules of civil procedure, with the Judge concluding that there were grounds to suspect that there had been material and serious breaches of procedure in a significant number of cases brought by local authorities. The judgment also recognises the right of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers to respect for their cultural traditions, including their enshrined right to travel, as emphasised by Lord Justice Coulson in the Bromley case in 2020.

 

New Planning Bill an ‘utter disaster’, say countryside campaigners

Source: The Guardian. Guardian article, entitled “Johnson’s planning laws an ‘utter disaster’, say countryside campaigners

Critics say bill unveiled in Queen’s speech to spur housebuilding will bring ‘dark age of development’
Ministers are expected to enact a radical shift by zoning land either for growth or protection.

Johnson’s planning laws an ‘utter disaster’, say countryside campaigners
by Robert Booth, The Guardian
Tue 11 May 2021
Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/11/johnsons-planning-laws-an-utter-disaster-say-countryside-campaigners

A dramatic loosening of planning laws to create a housebuilding boom will damage local democracy and destroy swathes of countryside by granting property developers a freer hand to build over green fields, planning experts have warned.

The new laws, part of the government’s “Project Speed” to accelerate infrastructure projects, are intended to increase the number of homes being planned by more than a third, and were announced in the Queen’s speech. But critics described them as “an utter disaster” which would return the country to “a deregulated dark age of development”.

Ministers are expected to enact a radical shift in the way decisions are made on new developments by zoning land either for growth, where developers will be allowed to build homes and related infrastructure such as schools and hospitals without individual planning consents, or protection where development will be restricted.

It wants to boost home ownership in areas of increasing Conservative support in northern England and the Midlands and will use post-Brexit freedoms to “simplify … environmental assessments for developments”.

It said there will be stronger rules on design – but countryside campaigners warned the changes would lead to the “suburbanisation” of the countryside and “rural sprawl” without delivering much-needed affordable housing.

The councils body the Local Government Information Unit said the changes would “leave local government with the political liability on planning whilst depriving them … of the powers to manage it effectively”.

The Queen’s speech did not include a bill to improve regulation of social housing despite a government white paper last year. Grenfell United, which represents the bereaved and survivors of the 2017 council block disaster, said it was “deeply let down” at the failure to “redress the balance of power between social housing tenants and landlords”.

Plans to reform leaseholds went as far as a new bill so leaseholders of new, long residential leases cannot be charged a financial ground rent for no tangible service. But there was no plan for helping current leaseholders pay up to £10bn in fire safety costs from faults discovered after Grenfell.

Announcing a planning bill that is expected to be the most radical since the 1948 Town and Country Planning Act, the government promised “simpler, faster procedures for producing local development plans, approving major schemes, assessing environmental impacts and negotiating affordable housing and infrastructure contributions”.

But Fiona Howie, the chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association, said: “It is disappointing that the government’s narrative has focused, once again, solely on housing numbers. If we are truly committed to building back better, we need the built environment to support communities to thrive.”

She also said the bill must “ensure planning radically reduces our carbon emissions”, describing the legislation as the “last chance”.

The moves were described as an “utter disaster” by the Lancashire, Liverpool city region and Greater Manchester branch of the CPRE charity, which lobbies to protect the countryside.

“We will see a lot more houses on greenfield land and in areas of outstanding natural beauty,” said Debra McConnell, the chair of the branch. “The people in the north of England need these green spaces for their wellbeing.”

The CPRE also warned the bill, which will largely apply only in England, ran counter to the proposed environmental bill and would “take us back to a deregulated dark age of development”. It fears most of the new homes are unlikely to be low-cost or affordable.
[end]

Seizing Travellers’ Homes, Neutering Protest: Priti Patel’s PCSC Bill Should Be Called ‘The Police State Bill’

Since Margaret Thatchers introduction of paramilitary policing in the Miners Strike (1984), Battle of the Beanfield (1985) and Wapping print workers dispute (1986) the number of UK ‘Bobbys on the beat’ has fallen to virtually zero.

Policing has become more arbitrary during the Coronavirus Act (2020-21) period where unprecedented intrusion into peoples homes on the rumour there may be an unauthorised visitor, and violent police action against certain types of demonstration, while facilitating others, has led many to point out that the British police have become a political force.

24Mar21, BRISTOL: Police violently shut down peaceful sit down occupation of College Green

Now in July 2021 the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill is about to receive the royal assent. The Home Secretary Priti Patel, whose bill it is, was previously sacked as a likely Israeli agent for 14 undeclared meetings with top Israeli government officials when Secretary of State for Overseas Development (DFID) in 2017.

So here is a selection of the lawyer and traveller groups’ responses to, and briefings on, the bill.

The Good Law Project has summed the failings of the bill up as follows.

• The police already have a wide range of powers to deal with protests.
• The Bill marks a “significant departure” from the historic approach to the policing of protests under the Public Order Act 1986.
• The advice shares our concern that the Secretary of State has the power to effectively prohibit “entire classes or types of protests” and has the power to set a low bar for what constitutes ‘significant disruption’ to the community or organisation – although how that power will be exercised remains to be seen. This includes defining the phrase in ways that would cover a picket or trade union demonstrations (even though their very purpose may be to cause disruption in order to draw attention to concerns around working conditions).
• The Bill broadens the circumstances in which police can impose restrictions on public processions and assemblies, including the introduction of a new “noise” criterion. All of this is likely to have a chilling effect on protests.
• Whether or not the legislation is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) may well depend on the restrictions imposed in specific circumstances, but the new provisions increase the possibility of protests being regulated in ways that could interfere with the rights under Articles 10 and 11 of the ECHR.

13Mar21 CLAPHAM COMMON: How the police turned peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard to violence

Full article: The return of the Policing Bill

The return of the Policing Bill

The Government’s legislative agenda for the next year – set out in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech – contains a series of deeply troubling measures, from plans to introduce Voter ID to a piece of legislation to prevent ‘no platforming’ at universities. They masquerade as confected solutions to non-existent problems. But in fact, they are worse – they are transparent attempts to silence opposition.  

But these proposals, deeply concerning as they are, risk overshadowing the more immediate danger of the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (the “PCSC Bill”) being pushed through without robust opposition. The Bill is set to return to the House of Commons in the next couple of weeks for what is known as the Committee Stage. 

We commissioned advice from Phillippa Kaufmann QC and Anita Davies at Matrix Chambers on the part of the Bill that deals with protest rights, and we promised we would publish that advice. It can now be accessed here.

The advice confirms some of our deep worries about the protest provisions in the Bill, but also highlights that the defining battle will be around how the Home Secretary exercises her powers under the Bill to define certain key phrases such as ‘significant disruption’. The definitions of these key terms will effectively set the tone for how protests are policed from now on. 

Below are some of the key findings from the advice.

  • The police already have a wide range of powers to deal with protests.
  • The Bill marks a significant departurefrom the historic approach to the policing of protests under the Public Order Act 1986.
  • The advice shares our concern that the Secretary of State has the power to effectively prohibit entire classes or types of protests” and has the power to set a low bar for what constitutes ‘significant disruption’to the community or organisation – although how that power will be exercised remains to be seen. This includes defining the phrase in ways that would cover a picket or trade union demonstrations (even though their very purpose may be to cause disruption in order to draw attention to concerns around working conditions).
  • The Bill broadens the circumstances in which police can impose restrictions on public processions and assemblies, including the introduction of a new noise”  All of this is likely to have a chilling effect on protests.
  • Whether or not the legislation is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) may well depend on the restrictions imposed in specific circumstances, but the new provisions increase the possibility of protests being regulated in ways that could interfere with the rights under Articles 10 and 11 of the ECHR. 

And that’s just the protest provisions. There are, of course, other aspects of the Bill that should concern all of us – including the proposed criminalisation of trespass in a way that disproportionately impacts Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities, and the fact that the plans for policing and sentencing are likely to further entrench racial inequality in the criminal justice system.

We are continuing to speak to MPs on both sides of the aisle to highlight our concerns. But if the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, introduces regulations of the sort anticipated, Good Law Project will bring or support legal action, alongside other civil society watchdogs, to try to stem our alarming slide towards authoritarianism.

It is only with your support that we can continue to hold Government to account. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here.

THE CRIMINALISATION OF TRESPASS

Community Law Project

http://www.communitylawpartnership.co.uk/news/the-criminalisation-of-trespass
Posted by clp-admin 17th March, 2021 News
Legal Briefing on Proposals to Criminalise Trespass
By The Community Law Partnership
Thanks to Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers and to Abbie Kirkby of Friends, Families and Travellers for their comments on this paper.
The Travellers Advice Team at Community Law Partnership are very interested in hearing from any Gypsies and Travellers who may be adversely affected by the proposed new criminal offence. We would encourage people to phone us on our Advice Line which is 0121 685 8677 Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm.

1. THE PROPOSALS
In November 2019 the Home Office launched a consultation entitled ‘Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’. On 8th March 2021, the Government finally produced their response to that consultation and you can find that response here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strengthening-police-powers-to-tackle-unauthorised-encampments/outcome/government-response-to-the-consultation-strengthening-police-powers-to-tackle-unauthorised-encampments-accessible-version. After publishing the response, the following day the Government included the new criminal offence of trespass in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSCB) which has already had its Second Reading on 15th and 16th March 2021. You can find the Bill here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0268/200268.pdf.
This new criminal offence, and the other proposed changes to the existing provisions of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994, cover both England and Wales.
In summary, the PCSCB will make it a criminal offence for someone with a vehicle residing or intending to reside on land without the consent of the occupier of the land to fail to comply with a request to leave the land in a case where that person’s residence or intended residence has caused or is likely to cause significant disruption, damage, or distress. If the person fails to leave the land or, having left, re-enters it, he or she can be arrested and his or her vehicle (i.e. his or her home) can be impounded.

2. WOULD THE CRIMINALISATION OF TRESPASS BE LAWFUL?
It seems to us that the proposed criminalisation amounts to an unlawful breach of Articles 8 and 14 ECHR. Article 8 enshrines the right to respect for a person’s private and family life and home. This includes his or her traditional way of life. Article 14 contains the right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of other Convention rights. The measure is an obvious interference with the nomadic way of life of Gypsies and Travellers and is also obviously discriminatory against these minorities. It is difficult to see how the measure is proportionate in light of the concerns set out below and especially the following factors:
(i) Alternative Sites
Many Gypsies and Travellers still have to resort to unauthorised encampments because of the continuing lack of permanent and transit site provision (including emergency stopping places) in England and Wales and a collective failure by national and local government over many years to develop arrangements such as ‘negotiated stopping agreements’ which would ensure that lawful stopping sites were provided.
(ii) The Government’s positive obligation to protect Gypsies and Travellers’ traditional way of life
In Chapman v UK [2001] 33 EHRR 399, the European Court of Human Rights stated:
…the vulnerable position of gypsies as a minority means that some special consideration should be given to their needs and their different lifestyle both in the relevant regulatory planning framework and in reaching decisions in particular cases…To this extent, there is thus a positive obligation imposed on the Contracting States by virtue of Article 8 to facilitate the gypsy way of life… (para 96)
In the case of London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown, London Gypsies and Travellers and Others [2020] EWCA Civ 12, the Court of Appeal, in upholding the refusal of the High Court Judge to grant Bromley a wide injunction against Gypsies and Travellers, stated:
Finally, it must be recognised that the cases…make plain that the Gypsy and Traveller community have an enshrined freedom not to stay in one place but to move from one place to another. An injunction which prevents them from stopping at all in a defined part of the UK comprises a potential breach of both the Convention and the Equality Act… (para 109).
(iii) The lack of public support for the measure
It is clear from the Government’s response to the consultation the majority of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the proposed measures.
(iv) The lack of Police support for the measure
It is particularly significant that the majority of Police forces that responded to the Government’s consultation exercise did not want greater powers.
(v) Chilling effect
The Government suggest that the legislation is only designed to address encampments that cause ‘disruption or distress’.
First, we find their explanation somewhat disingenuous. In their Frequently Asked Questions factsheet it is stated at page 4:
The Government’s view is that criminalisation of intentional residence on land without consent and the extension of existing powers in 1994 Act will provide Police with sufficient powers to effectively and efficiently enforce against a range of harms caused by some unauthorised encampments. The offence and strengthened Police powers could also deter unauthorised encampments from being set up in the first instance (our emphasis).
Secondly, not only can the offence be committed by someone who is said to be ‘likely to cause significant damage or significant disruption’ but it can be committed once they have been given a notice to leave not just by a Police Constable but also by the occupier of the land or a representative of the occupier. Thus the occupier of the land ( who could be the landowner or a leaseholder or licensee) or their representative can effectively turn a Gypsy or Traveller into a criminal by the giving of this notice. Moreover they risk being arrested and losing their homes without any Court having to conclude that they are guilty of the offence.
Thirdly, it may be said that the Gypsy or Traveller in question could simply challenge the assumption or declaration that they are likely to cause significant disruption or significant damage at the time that the request to leave is made but the reality is that if they were to do so they would then put themselves at risk of being arrested and having their vehicles (their homes) impounded. In those circumstances the vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers will feel obliged to leave the land without delay.
Finally, whereas the Police currently have a discretion as to whether to use their existing powers under CJPOA 1994 s61 or s62 A to E (in the latter case where there is a suitable alternative pitch available), they may feel obliged to make arrests and impound vehicles if they are informed that a criminal offence has taken place.

3. EXISTING POLICE POWERS
It is important to note that (1) the Police already have extensive powers to move on unauthorised encampments and (2) the Police do not support the strengthening of their powers of eviction which are currently contained in the CJPOA 1994.
CJPOA s61(1) states:
If the senior police officer present at the scene reasonably believes that two or more persons are trespassing on land and are present there with the common purpose of residing there for any period, that reasonable steps have been taken by or on behalf of the occupier to ask them to leave and –
(a) that any of those persons has caused damage to the land or to property on the land or used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards the occupier, a member of his family or an employee or agent of his, or
(b) that those persons have between them six or more vehicles on the land,
he may direct those persons, or any of them, to leave the land and to remove any vehicles or other property they have with them on the land.
This existing provision is already draconian since it enables the Police to evict an encampment at very short notice. Even where the Police are arguably exercising their powers unlawfully, it can be difficult to bring a challenge due to how swiftly the eviction can take place.
However, this power is somewhat ameliorated both by Government guidance on the question of managing unauthorised encampments (which stresses the need for the assessment of welfare considerations and alternative locations) and by very important guidance from the Police themselves, namely Operational Advice on Unauthorised Encampments (National Police Chiefs Council, 2018). This guidance stresses that the Police have a discretion as to whether or not to use their powers. Therefore, they may use their powers if an encampment is causing significant anti-social behaviour or if there are crimes occurring but, in other circumstances, may decide not to use their powers.
CJPOA 1994 s62 A – E relate to circumstances where there is a suitable alternative pitch available. Given the continuing lack of transit site provision (albeit that there has been a small increase in such provision over recent times), these provisions are of limited practical relevance and we will not discuss them further here.
It can certainly be concluded, at the very least, that the existing Police powers of eviction are sufficient. There is absolutely no need for them to be increased as the Police themselves accept.

4. THE PROPOSAL TO CRIMINALISE TRESPASS
Clause 61 of the PCSCB introduces a new offence into the CJPOA 1994 as follows:
60C Offence relating to residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle.
(1) Subsection(2) applies where –
(a) A person aged 18 or over (“P”) is residing, or intending to reside, on land without the consent of the occupier of the land,
(b) P has, or intends to have, at least one vehicle with them on the land,
(c) One or more of the conditions mentioned in subsection (4) is satisfied, and
(d) The occupier, a representative of the occupier or a constable request P to –
(i) Leave the land;
(ii) Remove from the land property that is in P’s possession or under P’s control.
(2) P commits an offence if –
(a) P fails to comply with the request as soon as reasonably practicable, or
(b) P –
(i) Enters (or having left, re-enters) the land within the prohibited period with the intention of residing there without the consent of the occupier of the land, and
(ii) Has, or intends to have, at least one vehicle with them on the land.
(3) The prohibited period is the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which the request was made.
(4) The conditions are –
(a) In a case where P is residing on the land, significant damage or significant disruption has been caused or is likely to be caused as a result of P’s residence;
(b) In a case where P is not yet residing on the land, it is likely that significant damage or significant disruption would be caused as a result of P’s residence if P were to reside on the land;
(c) That significant damage or significant disruption has been caused or is likely to be caused as a result of conduct carried on, or likely to be carried on, by P while P is on the land;
(d) That significant distress has been caused or is likely to be caused as a result of offensive conduct carried on, or likely to be carried on, by P while P is on the land (our emphasis).
Someone who commits the offence can be arrested and their vehicles (i.e. their homes) can be impounded.

5. CONCERNS ABOUT THE NEW OFFENCE
The new offence is deeply troubling, for several reasons:
(A) Even a single Gypsy or Traveller travelling in a single vehicle will be caught by this offence. When the powers in CJPOA 1994 were first being debated in Parliament, it was stated that the powers were intended to deal with ‘mass trespass’. We have now come to a stage where even a single Gypsy or Traveller will be caught by these draconian provisions.
(B) As mentioned above the ‘request’ to leave the land can be made by the occupier of the land or a representative of the occupier. This is a very important difference as compared to the current powers under CJPOA 1994 s61. The existing powers can only be exercised by the Police, which means that a person only faces criminalisation once they have disobeyed the instruction of a law enforcement official. Under the new offence, a person can be criminalised for disobeying the instruction of a private citizen. Moreover, whilst the Police are – or should be – motivated by concerns such as protection of the public and preservation of public order, the private citizen will be motivated by the protection of his or her personal interests as an ‘occupier’ of land. To criminalise what has previously always been a civil dispute between private citizens is alarming in the extreme.
(C) As currently drafted (and unless any guidance changes this) this request does not appear to have to be in writing. This is extraordinarily casual given the draconian results that may follow.
(D) The period during which the Gypsy or Traveller is effectively banned from the land in question is extended from 3 months (as it is currently under the 1994 Act) to 12 months. For those Gypsies and Travellers who have no alternative but to resort to unauthorised encampments, there are, in effect, very few potential stopping places in any one area. The extension of the time limit to 12 months effectively creates a kind of wide injunction covering the relevant areas where a Gypsy and Traveller might be able to stop in other circumstances.
(E) The interpretation section defines ‘damage’ to include
(a) Damage to the land;
(b) Damage to any property on the land not belonging to P;
(c) Damage to the environment (including excessive noise, smells, litter or deposits of waste)
‘Disruption’ is defined to include interference with:
(a) A person’s ability to access any services or facilities located on the land or otherwise make lawful use of the land, or
(b) A supply of water, energy or fuel.
These definitions are vague and could potentially include a very wide range of issues. Moreover, it is unlikely that judicial clarification will be forthcoming soon, because Gypsies and Travellers will not want to risk potentially being arrested and getting their vehicles impounded in order for them to go to Court and find out what the Court decides is meant by ‘damage’ or ‘disruption’. Moreover, the offence can be committed, as discussed above, if damage or disruption is only ‘likely to be caused’.
(F) There is no specific attempt to define what ‘significant’ means. This is a word which, in another context, has caused confusion and necessitated a definition by the Court of Appeal (Panayiotou v Waltham Forest London Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 1624). The lack of clarity here is concerning.
(G) Additionally there will be amendments to other powers in the CJPOA 1994 including adding on to ‘damage’ under s61(1) (see above) the words ‘disruption or distress’. The period of time during which you must not return to the land following a notice under CJPOA 1994 s61 is also extended to 12 months. Section 61 will also be extended to cover the highway.

6. LOBBYING AND CAMPAIGNING
It will be very important, of course, for Gypsies and Travellers, Gypsy and Traveller national and local groups and those others supporting Gypsies and Travellers in this vital matter to take forward the strongest possible campaign and now to lobby Parliamentarians as the PCSCB passes through Parliament. It is noted that the Government seem intent on rushing this Bill through.
Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) have already put together an impressive array of materials on this matter which you can find on their website at: https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/news/government-announces-plans-to-introduce-harsh-laws-for-roadside-camps/
FFT have produced an excellent briefing paper and, in summary, they state:
• The measures outlined in the PCSCB will further compound the inequalities experienced by Gypsies and Travellers, needlessly pushing people into the criminal justice system.
• The powers will disproportionately affect specific minority and ethnic communities and are likely to be in conflict with equality and human rights legislation.
• The case for action is flawed. An enforcement approach to addressing the number of unauthorised encampments overlooks the issue of the lack of site provision – there is an absence of places where Gypsies and Travellers are permitted to stop or reside.
• There are other solutions to managing unauthorised encampments, such as negotiated stopping, whereby arrangements are made on agreed permitted times on stopping and to ensure the provision of basic amenities such as water, sanitation and refuse collection.
• The definition of a Gypsy or Traveller in planning terms requires proof of travelling – without which you are not assessed as needing a pitch or get planning permission, but will essentially be prohibited from travelling by law.
• Police bodies do not support the criminalisation of trespass.
• The majority of respondents to the HO consultation opposed more police powers.
• There are very little in the way of measures to mitigate harm from the proposals.

7. WALES
We note that these provisions will apply in Wales too. The Welsh Government has taken a much more positive approach to Gypsies and Travellers than the Westminster Government in recent years, and especially since the duty to meet the assessed need for Gypsy and Traveller sites was enacted in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 s103. That being so we hope that the Welsh Government will support the call for this proposed new offence and the amendments to the CJPOA 1994 to be withdrawn.

8. CONCLUSION
In conclusion, this new offence (leaving aside the other amendments to the existing powers in CJPOA 1994) would be sufficient to make life on the road for Gypsies and Travellers impossible and, thus, drive them from the roadside in England and Wales for the first time since Gypsies appeared in Britain in the early 16th century.
We hope that the campaigning and lobbying from Gypsies and Travellers and their supporters will lead to the relevant clauses being removed completely from the Bill. If these clauses and especially if the new criminal offence is brought into force, then we think it is clear that a legal challenge will come forward immediately to these draconian and inhumane provisions. Once again we would urge Gypsies and Travellers potentially affected by these provisions to contact us. We would urge all those who object to these provisions to join with the Gypsy and Traveller national and local organisations in their campaign against this awful piece of legislation.

Community Law Partnership
23rd March 2021
For full details about the current state of the law please see Willers and Johnson eds. Gypsy and Traveller Law (Legal Action 2019).

 

Kill The Bill and Housing Rights – Stickers/Posters from Autonomous Design Group


https://autonomousdesigngroup.bigcartel.com/

  • 50 The Future is Already Here Stickers – £3.00
  • 50 Stop All Evictions Stickers – £3.00

  • Autonomous Design Group is an independent collective of designers, artists and creatives opposed to capitalism and authoritarianism.
  • We maintain that the aesthetic is of vital importance in the terrain of political struggle.
  • We aim to offer artistic support to a wide range of groups and movements and encourage everyone to contact us for designs.
  • All our designs are open-source and editable.
  • We use a combination of collage, creative graphical elements, strong typography and colour palettes to depart from the usual red and black style of the left – an aesthetic which we believe comes across as dated and out of touch.
  • The communication of ideas in an approachable and clear way is especially important given that the coming years will define the future of humanity. We have until 2030 to prevent being locked into ecological collapse.
  • We believe in building and supporting popular, unmediated struggle against capitalism.
  • We reject art as an object of bourgeois enjoyment: artists have mainly only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.
  • Our goal in the mass dissemination of ideas through the street in order to change life. The placing of art onto the street should not just be a one-off thing, a small act of rebellion, photographed and catalogued into an object, which can later be turned into a commodity and sold. Instead posters and stickers should be produced on mass as cheaply as possible, everywhere, repeated thousands of times over, affecting the geography of space, and millions of people’s consciousness.

Labour house tax plan ‘would stop parents passing on homes to kids’

Labour tax plan ‘could stop parents passing on homes to kids’

https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/01/labour-tax-plan-stop-parents-passing-homes-kids-10095642/
Necessary Land Debates Now Please: LJN/Labour tax inherited homes; LVT; Population; Planet of the Humans...

Under current laws, inheritance tax affects 640,000 households, but Labour's proposed Lifetime Gifts Tax (LGT) would affect up to 10 million homes.

Though the Land Justice Network Facebook page denied it - it was indeed true...

LJN, George Monbiot and the Labour party teamed up last year to write a Labour policy to tax almost all inherited homes rather than just the most expensive. The result was a sneaky move in 'Land For The Many' which would force millions of children out of homes if their parents die 
https://landforthemany.uk/summary-of-recommendations/ 

Labour tax plan could stop parents passing on homes to kids https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/01/labour-tax-plan-stop-parents-passing-homes-kids-10095642/  
If you think inheritance tax is hated now, wait until Labour tries to bring in a lifetime gift tax with a £125,000 limit 
https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/comment/article-7233637/Labours-threat-inheritance-125k-lifetime-gift-tax.html 

This is just one contradiction in land campaign policy emerging as 'mogadon' Starmer looks set to hand Boris a decade in power. BTW here's why Corbyn lost and no it wasn't the media IMO https://www.rt.com/op-ed/475891-corbyn-general-election-destroyed/

Now some on the 'left' have even turned on filmmaker Michael Moore's Planet of the Humans for exposing the massive investment nightmare taking over renewables, every bit as bad as the fossil fuel lobby - basically saying the same money is just shifting to greenwash you can watch PotH here 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE  and download it as an mp4 to watch/edit using this tool 
https://youtube-video.download

Apoplexy is the order of the day among green energy zealots following the release of Mike Moores Planet of The Humans. In the military they call it blue on blue, although when the hard left are pulling the trigger its more aptly described as green on green. But the documentary backed by Moore isnt so much friendly fire, as an all-out assault on the billionaire hypocrites who whipped up fear and frenzy over changes in the weather and then, as if by magic, produced the notional solution to the calamity in the form of heavily subsidised wind, solar and forest-munching biomass. A solution which, of course, they are all heavily invested in. 
https://stopthesethings.com/2020/04/25/blood-gore-mike-moores-planet-of-the-humans-unmasks-the-power-money-behind-renewables-scam/ 

How did Michael Moore become a hero to climate deniers and the far right? 
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/07/michael-moore-far-right-climate-crisis-deniers-film-environment-falsehoods 

Our founder, George Monbiot has used his Guardian column to condemn the film, accusing Michael Moore of being in league with the far right, yeah right, there has been no actual debate whatever

But possibly the most important discussion is about population - as so called environmentalist Prince Charles warns that we will need 'four planets like earth to survive' as we just 'take and take' and urges companies to focus on the 'green recovery' following coronavirus The Prince of Wales spoke via recorded message from Balmoral, Aberdeenshire. He stated that at current rate we would need 'four planets like earth to survive' 
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-8757107/Prince-Charles-warns-need-four-planets-like-earth-survive.html 

Environmental Justice or Eugenics? Prince Charles Says We Must Reduce World Population By Three Quarters 
https://tlio.org.uk/environmental-justice-or-eugenics-prince-charles-says-we-must-reduce-world-population-by-three-quarters/  

Bright Green Lies: Paul Mobbs’ Review Of Julia Barnes’ Documentary And Its ‘Deep Green’ Message

‘Bright Green Lies’

“When people talk about 100% renewable energy transition to save the planet, to save civilisation, what they’re actually talking about is sustaining modern high-energy ways of life, at the expense of the natural world.”

A brief review of the film and its ‘deep green’ message.

http://www.fraw.org.uk/blog/2021/20210507-bright_green_lies.shtml

7th May 2021 – It’s been a year since ‘Planet of the Humans’ caused the leaders of climate campaigns to go into heated meltdown. By comparison, this film throws them an even greater challenge to try and respond to.

Being ‘well known’ in eco-circles, you sometimes get strange, often unsolicited stuff arriving in your inbox. This, however, was something I’d been hoping for: A chance to view, and thus review, ‘Bright Green Lies’1 – Julia Barnes’ new documentary about the environmental movement and its support for renewable energy.

‘Planet of the Humans’2 (PotH) was entertaining. At a general level it was factual, albeit a polemic expression of those points. But its protracted period of production meant that it lacked coherence, and thus left itself open to easy criticism.

Those criticisms when they came, however, fell directly into the lap of the central argument of the film3That mainstream environmentalists distort facts to promote an erroneous vision of the measures necessary to ‘save the planet’.

It wasn’t just Josh Fox, backed by green entrepreneurs4, engaging in a cavalier reshaping of fact and quotations to blacken the name of the film. Our own George Monbiot engaged in5 his own well-honed distortion of fact and quotation via The Guardian (symbolic of a number of their recent failures) in order to try and prevent people watching the film on this side of the pond.

‘Bright Green Lies’ is very different: Like PotH, once again it presents the personal viewpoint of the director, Julia Barnes. Unlike PotH, though, it has a very different tone, building upon the immediacy and well-researched content of the eponymous book by Derrick Jensen6Lierre Keith7, and Max Wilbert8 – all of whom appear in the film.

You get the core of the film’s argument over the first five minutes, as the four main protagonists set out their respective take on the ‘bright green’ position [time index in film is shown in brackets]:

‘Bright Green Lies’, the book
Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert,
Monkfish Book Publishing,
1st April 2021.‘Bright Green Lies’, the film
Julia Barnes, 22nd April 2021.

  • Barnes: “People rarely question the solutions they are taught to embrace, but with all the world at stake we must start asking the right questions. There is a push for a 100% renewable world, and after the research I’ve done for this documentary, I want no part of it. I did not become an environmentalist to protect my way of life, or the civilisation in which I live. I did it because I am in love with life on this planet, and because the world I love is under assault. This film is for those whose allegiance is with the living world. Those who would do whatever it takes to defend it.”[02:26]
  • Jensen: “You will have hundred of thousands of people marching in the streets of Washington, or New York, or Paris; and, if you ask those individuals ‘why are you marching?’, they will say, ‘we wanna save the planet’. And if you ask them for their demands they will say, ‘we want subsidies for the wind and solar industry’. That’s extraordinary. I can’t think of any time in history when any mass movement has been so completely captured, and turned into lobbyists for an industry.”[03:49]
  • Keith: “The environmental movement used to be a very impassioned group of people who cared very deeply about the places we loved and the creatures we loved. What happened, though, in my lifetime, was that this movement which was so honourable and impassioned, it turned into something completely different. And now its about protecting a destructive way of life, while it destroys the creatures and the places we love. It’s all become, ‘how to we continue to fuel this destruction?’, as if the only problem was that we were using oil and gas.”[03:16]
  • Wilbert: “The natural world isn’t really part of the conversation any more. Kumi Naidoo, the former head of Greenpeace, I was watching him being interviewed the other day. He was saying, ‘The planet’s going to survive, the oceans are going to survive, the forests are going to survive, it’s really about can we save ourselves or not’. And I just saw that and I’m thinking, what the hell are you saying?… This is someone who’s considered to be one of the top environmentalists in the world and he’s saying we don’t have to worry about the forests or the oceans? I mean, that just betrays a complete lack of empathy and connection to the natural world. I don’t know how you could possibly say that when we’re in the midst of the Sixth Great Mass Extinction, and it’s being caused by industrial culture. It’s being caused by the same institutions, the same economies, the same systems, the same raw materials, the same extractive mindset, that is being used for these renewable energy technologies.”[04:36]

My introduction to ‘environmentalism’ started before I’d seriously heard the word; growing up in a semi-rural working class family who grew their own food, kept chickens, and foraged. Likewise, coming into contact with ‘mainstream’ environmentalism in the mid-1980s introduced me to the concept of ‘bright green’9 before I’d heard that term either.

If there’s one general criticism I have (in part because the book, too, glosses over it), it is the failure to explore the class bias of environmentalism10. It is dominated by the middle class (and in UK, led by the upper-middle class); and so the economically ‘aspirational’ middle class values suffuse its agenda. That’s overlooked in the film.

That this movement should innately favour individualist materialist values11, over communal or spiritual ones, should therefore be of no surprise. That does not condemn these groups, or render them incapable12 of change. What it makes them do is reflect a narrow focus of both concerns and solutions13. More importantly, in a mass political society, it makes it difficult for them to have empathy with14 a large majority of the public – and that hampers their ability to make change.

That bias towards affluence15 informs their ideological values, which in turn have come to dominate contemporary environmentalism. As said in the film:

“Bright Green Environmentalism is founded on the notion that technology will solve environmental problems; and that you can, through 100% recycling, through wind and solar power, have an industrial economy that does not harm the planet. Deep ecology is the belief that we need to radically change the way society functions in order to be sustainable.”[05:30]

The spectre of this early ideological differentiation has haunted the movement. Just as Keith outlines, for me it became evident around 1988 to 1990. Figures such as Jonathon Porritt16 and Sara Parkin17 sought to divest the movement of its ‘hairshirt’ image18, and put it on a ‘professional’ footing. As a self-acknowledged ‘fundo’ (the pejorative term used for deep green ‘fundamentalists’ in the Green Party at that time) that didn’t enthuse me one bit.

That ‘professionalised’ approach (for which, read compromise with neoliberal values) would slowly percolate through the movement over the next decade. And with it, the compromise that has stalled more radical responses to ecological issues ever since. That failure has, in part, only escalated these historic internal tensions – tensions that this film, almost certainly, will inflame.

First ‘green consumerism’, and then ‘sustainability’, foundered on the reality that the movement’s role as a ‘stakeholder’ in government and industry programmes produced little change. Today, the issue at the heart of this internecine contention is renewable energy – and whether it is a realistic response to the Climate Emergency, or just another distracting ruse.

I think this film is a good contribution to that contemporary debate. If only to make many people aware that this debate exists19, and so cause people to look at the academic research in more detail.

As Barnes succinctly put it: “We are told that we can have our cake and eat it too.”[01:59] And yes, this really is all about cutting the ‘cake’ of affluence. But the film’s criticism of consumerism was couched in a generic “we”, and therein lies its failing.

When it comes to consumption it is not an issue of ‘we’. It is about how an extremely narrow social and economic elite exploit the majority by giving them the ‘illusion of affluence’20. Albeit one that is today precariously founded upon deepening debt and doubtful economics (a ‘deep’ issue21 in-and-of itself).

By not making the case that it is a highly privileged minority22 causing/benefiting from ecological destruction (see graph below)23, the film and book miss the opportunity to state arguments such as:

Oxfam, ‘Extreme Carbon inequality’, 2015

In a situation where – both globally but also in the most polluting states – it is a minority which is causing these problems, that redefines its political ‘reality’ in different terms. To be fair, Barnes strays into this issue at points:

“The ocean is the foundation of life on this planet. The fact that we’re losing it at the rate we are is alarming. I think part of the reason we’re failing is that we ask what is politically possible more often than we ask what is necessary.”[41:37]

Simple logic demands that this minority urgently change their lifestyle, lest the majority, threatened by ecological breakdown, seek to rest it from them. It is how they do this which is another live issue. Frankly, that’s not going too well right now:

Currently Western states are seeking to repress protests28 against the climate emergency, to forestall calls for more radical change;

While at the same time, billionaires create bunkers29 in remote locations to survive any future backlash from the dispossessed majority.

This creates a powerful incentive for the ‘impoverished majority’ to rest control away from the economic elite driving ecological breakdown.

The reality is, though, neither Greenpeace, WWF, nor even Extinction Rebellion, are likely to pick up that banner any time soon. Their failure to recognise affluence as a driver for ecological destruction negates their ability to act to stop it. Instead tokenistic measures, like renewable energy, supplant calls for meaningful systemic change.

jump to bookmarks

Economics versus ecological limits

About half-way through, Max Wilbert elucidates a truth that doesn’t get nearly enough exposure:

“When people talk about 100% renewable energy transition to save the planet, to save civilisation, what they’re actually talking about is sustaining modern high-energy ways of life, at the expense of the natural world.”[26:38]

I’m sure a number will recognise that from many of my previous workshops. In fact, I’ve just had a Facebook post blocked for, ‘violating community standards’. The offence? It linked to a summary of the research30 making this same point; and it’s not the first time that’s happened. It’s a touchy subject!

In 2005, my own book, ‘Energy Beyond Oil’31, visited many of the issues explored in the film/book. In far less detail though, as there was nowhere near the quantity of research evidence available back then. What that also highlights, though, is how over the interim: ‘Bright green’ environmentalism has been unable to comprehend32 the message from this new research; while at the same time deliberately deflecting people’s attention towards points of view which have a questionable basis33 for support.

On that point, I think Max Wilbert gives a most eloquent view for how mainstream environmentalism sold itself on the altar of green consumerism:

“They want us to believe that consumer choices are the only way we can change things. But if we accept that then it means that they’ve won, because we’re defining ourselves as consumers…
I have to buy things within this culture to survive, and that is not something that defines me or my power as an actor in this world. I would say much more fundamentally I am an animal. I have hands. I have feet. And I can walk places. And I can do things. And I have a voice. And I have the ability to speak with people and build a relationship with people. And I have the ability to organise. And I have the ability to fight if need be. These are all much more important than my ability to buy or not buy something.”
[48:28]

Since ‘Planet of the Humans’, many on the ‘bright green’ side of the aisle have learned a lesson. Their hysterical condemnation of the film, to the point of calling for it to be banned, only served to feed it greater publicity, ensuring more would see it.

Their lack of response this time is perhaps also due to how well the film exposes the fragility of their arguments. One of the bright points in the film was the way in which ‘deep green’ criticisms were dovetailed alongside interviews with those they criticised – amplifying the substance of the disagreement between each side.

  1. Energy Research
    & Social Science:
    ‘Energy transitions or additions? – Why a transition from fossil fuels requires more than the growth of renewable energy’,
    vol.51 pp.40-43, May 2019

I think my favourite was the segment on Richard York’s research34, showing that growing renewable energy actually displaces a very minimal level of fossil fuels. When York’s point was put to David Suzuki, his reply, which I too have often received, was, ”So what is the conclusion form an analysis like that, we shouldn’t do anything?”[24:08]

The film brilliantly explodes this false dilemma. When pushed, about needing to tackle things systemically rather than just trying to influence behaviour, Suzuki’s response was, “yeah, there’s no question our major impact on the planet now, not just in terms of energy, is consumption. And that was a deliberate programme…”[24:26]

When it comes to the ‘liberal’ solutions to the climate crisis generally, I think Lierre Keith gives the most perceptive criticism of the simplistic, ‘bright green’ arguments for change[1:03:23]:

  1. Ecological Economics:
    ‘Economics for the future: Beyond the super-organism’,
    vol.169 art.106520, March 2020

[Capitalism] takes living communities, it converts those into dead commodities35, and then those dead commodities are turned into private wealth. And a lot of people think, well, if we just make that into public wealth, we all could get an equal piece of the pie, that’s the solution. The problem is that’s not going to be a solution because you’ve still got the first two parts of that equation. Why are we taking the living planet and turning it into dead commodities? That’s the problem…

It’s the fact that rivers, and grasslands, and forests, and fish, have been turned into those dead commodities, that’s the problem.”

Jensen then bookends Keith’s point with another, straightforward invalidation of the basic premise of the bright green approach[1:04:33]:

  1. Nature:
    ‘A safe operating space for humanity’,
    vol.461 pp.472-475,
    September 2009

“What do all the so called, ‘solutions’, to global warming have in common? They all take industrial capitalism as a given, and so conform to industrial capitalism. They’ve switched the dependent and the independent variables. The world has to be primary, and the health of the world has to be primary36, because without a world you don’t have any economy whatsoever. And the bright greens are very explicit about this. What they’re trying to save is industrial capitalism, industrial civilisation. And that’s my fundamental beef, because what I’m trying to save is the real world.”

jump to bookmarks

Climate inequality meets decolonialism

Jensen makes an interesting observation towards the end of the film:

“The thing that blows me away is the lengths that people will go to avoid looking at the problem. That they will create all these extraordinary fantasies in order to do something that’s not going to help the planet so they can avoid looking at the real issue. Which is that industrial civilisation itself is what’s killing the planet.”[59:40]

Likewise Barnes astutely characterises the basic block to progress towards the near end:

“Bright green environmentalism has gained popularity because it tells a lot of people what they want to hear. That you can have industrial civilisation and a planet too. It allows people to feel good about maintaining this destructive way of living and to avoid asking hard questions about the depth of what must be changed.”[1:05:04]

For me, though, it was Keith’s discussion about what it is ‘civilisation’ is based upon[1:00:02] which brought a long overdue argument into circulation: Criticism of the ‘resource island’ model for the modern city, and its inherent link to the global expropriation and exploitation of land.

Driven by the wealthiest ‘city’ state’s need to maintain consumption, the inherent ‘neocolonial’ aspects of international climate negotiations are something the climate lobby too often overlook. Especially in relation to issues such as carbon offsets, and the global allocation of carbon budgets, and their inherent global inequality.

At some point environmental groups must call ‘bullshit’ on these whole neocolonial proceedings37, and start giving equal value to all humans, irrespective of their present-day privilege. More importantly, we have to give ecological capacity, currently occupied by human societies, back to natural organisms to allow them sufficient space to live too.

Before ‘Bright Green Lies’ turned up, I had just seen Raoul Peck’s excellent, ‘Exterminate All The Brutes’38. Coming to the end of ‘Bright Green Lies’, what startled me was how the two films arrived at a very similar place. Both showed similar blocks towards acceptance of the radical change required, around both ecological change and decolonialism.

To understand Peck’s film it helps to have read, ‘Heart of Darkness’39. In structuring the film around the characters in that book, and contrasting it to The Holocaust, Peck shows how indifference to European and US colonialism enabled The Holocaust to take place[Episode 4, 46:57 to 54:11]:

“It is not knowledge that is lacking… The educated general public has always largely known what atrocities have been committed and are being committed in the name of progress, civilization, socialism, democracy, and the market…

At all times, it has also been profitable to deny or suppress such knowledge… And when what had been done in the heart of darkness was repeated in the heart of Europe, no one recognized it. No one wished to admit what everyone knew.

Everywhere in the world this knowledge is being suppressed. Knowledge that, if it were made known, would shatter our image of the world and force us to question ourselves. Everywhere there, Heart of Darkness is being enacted…

Black Elk, holy man of the Oglala Lakota people, said after the Wounded Knee Massacre, ‘I didn’t know then how much was ended… A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. The nation’s circle is broken and scattered. There is no centre any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.’”

  1. Nature Communications:
    ‘Renewable energy production will exacerbate mining threats to biodiversity’,
    vol.11 art.4174,
    1st September 2020

There are uncomfortable parallels between Peck’s insights into Holocaust denial, and the denial of the crimes of colonialism, and the everyday denial of the damage that affluence and material consumption are causing to the entire planet. From the horrors of resource mining40, to the devastation of the oceans by plastics, such evidence represents a constant ‘background noise’ in the modern media. A noise people have learned to ignore, in order to keep functioning amidst the cognitive dissonance of their everyday, disconnected lives.

As Peck says, “It is not knowledge that is lacking”. People are aware. The fact that they will not engage with the issue, as outlined in ‘Bright Green Lies’, is that people innately know the extent of their own complicity. To do so, ‘would shatter our image of the world and force us to question ourselves’.

  1. PNAS:
    ‘People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years’,
    vol.118(17) no.e2023483118,
    27th April 2021

We do not need more ‘evidence’. The block to ecological change is not simply a lack of ‘knowledge’. It is that many all too well understand the reality of what stopping the ecological crisis41 would entail. Trapped by their subconscious fear for what that would mean personally, they cannot see a solution to the psychological dependency engendered by consumerism and industrial society.

Mainstream environmentalism, as the film outlines, is its own worst enemy. In advocating ephemeral, consumer-based solutions to tackling ecological breakdown, it creates its own certain failure. Unfortunately, unless the counter-point to that, the ‘deep green’ argument, is able to give people the confidence to accept and let go of industrial society, it will not make progress either. I think this film almost gets there; but we need to focus far more on the workable, existing examples of people living outside of that system to give people the confidence to make that internal, ‘leap of faith’. For those who want to follow this road, and perhaps provide those examples, this film is a good starting point to build from.

 

 

Created: Friday 7th May 2021.
Length: ~3,450 words.

Click for hotkeys list

Page bookmarks
(use section number as a hotkey to jump to it).
  1. Environmentalism is a ‘class’ issue.
  2. Economics versus ecological limits.
  3. Climate inequality meets decolonialism.
  1. Vimeo On-Demand:
    ‘Bright Green Lies’,
    21st April 2021
  2. YouTube:
    ‘Planet of the Humans’,
    21st April 2020
  3. Ramblinactivist’s Blogs:
    ‘‘Planet of the Humans’ – A (long-form) review of… the reviews.’, 1st May 2020
  4. The Grayzone:
    ‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary’,
    7th December 2020
  5. Ramblinactivist’s Blogs:
    ‘Cooking scones with The Prodigy; or, why do climate campaigners not understand logical fallacies?’,
    18th May 2020
  6. Wikipedia:
    ‘Derrick Jensen’
  7. Wikipedia:
    ‘Lierre Keith’
  8. Max Wilbert’s
    website
  9. jump to bookmarks

    Environmentalism is a ‘class’ issue

    1. Wikipedia:
      ‘Bright green environmentalism’
    2. Sociological Review:
      ‘Environmentalism, Middle-Class Radicalism And Politics’,
      vol.28 no.2, 1980
    3. Environmental Conservation:
      ‘Sympathy for the environment predicts green consumerism but not more important environmental behaviours related to domestic energy use’,
      vol.43 no.2, January 2013
    4. Journal of Experimental
      Social Psychology:
      ‘Social class, control, and action – Socioeconomic status differences in antecedents of support for pro-environmental action’,
      vol.77 pp.60-75, 2018
    5. Architectural Science Review:
      ‘Values and sustainable lifestyles’,
      vol.53 pp.37-50, 2010
    6. Sociological Perspectives:
      ‘Eco-habitus or Eco-powerlessness? Examining Environmental Concern across Social Class’,
      vol.62 no.5, March 2019
    7. Sustainable Development:
      ‘Creating Sustainable Identities – The Significance of the Financially Affluent Self’,
      vol.18 pp.123-134, March 2010
    8. Wikipedia:
      ‘Jonathon Porritt’
    9. Wikipedia:
      ‘Sara Parkin’
    10. Wikipedia:
      ‘Hairshirt environmentalism’
    11. YouTube:
      ‘Forget Shorter Showers’, 2015
    12. Nature Communications:
      ‘Scientists’ warning on affluence’,
      19th June 2020
    13. Wikipedia:
      ‘Degrowth’
    14. Nature Energy:
      ‘Large inequality in international and intranational energy footprints between income groups and across consumption categories’,
      vol.5 pp.231-239, March 2020
    15. Oxfam:
      ‘Extreme Carbon Inequality – Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first’,
      December 2015
    16. Oxfam:
      ‘Confronting carbon inequality – Putting climate justice at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery’,
      21st September 2020
    17. PNAS:
      ‘The carbon footprint of household energy use in the United States’,
      vol.117(32) pp.19122-19130, August 2020
    18. Global Sustainability:
      ‘The unequal distribution of household carbon footprints in Europe and its link to sustainability’,
      vol.3 e18, 6th July 2020
    19. Global Environmental Change:
      ‘Providing decent living with minimum energy – A global scenario’,
      vol.65 art.102168, November 2020
    20. Guardian On-line:
      ‘Environment protest being criminalised around world, say experts’, 29th April 2021
    21. Forbes:
      ‘Billionaire Bunker Owners Are Preparing For The Ultimate Underground Escape’,
      27th March 2020
    22. Paul Mobbs & MEIR:
      ‘The Invisible, and Growing Ecological Footprint of Digital Technology’,
      January 2020
    23. Paul Mobbs & MEIR:
      ‘‘Energy Beyond Oil’ – Could You Cut Your Energy Use by Sixty Percent?’,
      June 2005
    24. Journal of Cleaner Production:
      ‘Diverging pathways to overcoming the environmental crisis – A critique of eco-modernism from a technology assessment perspective’,
      vol.197(2) pp.1854-1862, October 2018
    25. Globalizations:
      The appallingly bad neoclassical economics of climate change,
      1st September 2020
    26. Wikipedia:
      ‘Neocolonialism’
    27. Wikipedia:
      ‘Exterminate All The Brutes (2021 film)’
    28. Wikipedia:
      ‘Heart of Darkness’