Championing Causes
Two Green councillors on City of York Council have achieved the status of council 'champions'. Cllr Dave Taylor is to continue in the role of Heritage Champion for the historic city and now Cllr Andy D'Agorne has become the Cycling Champion for the city that was last year successful in becoming a 'Cycle Demonstration Town'.

The bid to boost cycling levels in York, that had reached a plateau in recent years, got off to a slow start and experienced some controversy when the previous (Conservative) Cycle Champion resigned in protest over a new cycle lane replacing a traffic lane at a major junction.

But Andy aims to change all that, having thirty years of cycle campaigning experience - from being the 'Pedals' newsletter editor in Nottingham in 1979 to campaigning in Sheffield in the early '90s when many routes in the city were first established. He became one of the two first Green Party councillors in the City of York in 2003, since which time he has represented the Fishergate ward of the city.

Lewisham Landmark
A Green Party campaign to end poverty pay for Lewisham Council's lowest-paid workers reached a major milestone in June. After a campaign by Green Party councillors the Mayor agreed to new rules which immediately began to make the London Living Wage the minimum paid to workers employed by council contractors.

Because Lewisham Council and its contractors are the borough's major employers, the change will have a major effect on incomes for ordinary people across recession-hit Lewisham. The London Living Wage - currently £7.60/hr - is calculated by City Hall as the minimum hourly pay needed to live in London. It is £1.87 higher than the national minimum wage but there is no legal obligation on employers to pay it.

The decision, made at the 10 June Mayor & Cabinet meeting, makes Lewisham only the second London borough to begin implementing the anti-poverty policy.

But the Greens objected that between 240 and 360 agency workers working for the council will be excluded from the new deal, leaving them on poverty pay, and branded their exclusion "grossly unfair".

Award Winners

Two prominent greens were recognised at this year's Observer Ethical Awards. Peter Tatchell, the party's spokesperson on human rights, won Campaigner of the Year and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas beat Vince Cable and David Cameron to pick up the prestigious Ethical Politician of the Year award for a second time.

In his acceptance speech, Peter paid tribute to "the many human rights campaigners worldwide who risk their lives and freedom, in countries like Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Iraq and China. It is an honour to work with and support them". Caroline said: "I am honoured that Observer readers have chosen to recognise my work in this way - it means a great deal."

Children at a school in Skegness set their sights on improving their town - with a little help from the Green Party.

Local member James Hardaker was invited to visit Seathorne Primary School to talk to Year six pupils about green ways to enhance and clean up the town, and it wasn't long before he was bombarded with questions from eager pupils.
James said: "It was great to know that the school wanted this project to be done in the greenest way possible, and so they chose the Green Party to advise pupils on possible ways forward.

"I was very impressed by the interest the children showed in improving the town. There were about 50 pupils involved, and most of them had their hands up with questions solidly for about an hour.

"By the end of the session they were all set to go away and look into applying for grants to run their own projects, so it'll be really interesting to see what they come up with."

Cycle paths, litter clean-ups and a graffiti wall for contests to cut down illegal graffiti elsewhere in the town were among the ideas the pupils wanted to pursue.

Best of British
Caroline Lucas MEP, leader of the Green Party, has been rated best British MEP on transparency, accountability, democracy and waste by campaign group Open Europe. And Britain's Green Party MEPs were ranked above the groups of all other British parties.
Open Europe published a ranking of all 785 Members of the European Parliament, scoring their record on promoting transparency and reform in the European Union over the last five-year term.

Open Europe's ranking was based on a range of activities, including voting records, attendance, written declarations, and whether the MEPs themselves have taken part in wasteful activities, such as the controversial second pension fund.

Open Europe awarded points based on a "Premier League" model, where 3 points was the highest score, followed by 1 point and 0 points. On attendance, a scale from 1 to 6 was used. MEPs who had been the subject of substantive press reports of wrongdoing were shown Open Europe's "red card" and had 10 points deducted from their score.

The bottom thirteen places for British MEPs in Open Europe's ranking included 5 Conservatives and 6 UKIP MEPs. The very bottom place, however, was jointly shared between an MEP each from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour and UKIP. The UKIP MEP with the poorest score was party leader Nigel Farage.

Lithuanian Laws
Green MEP Jean Lambert joined protests in Brussels against the adoption of legislation in Lithuania which will outlaw the discussion of homosexuality in schools.

On 16 June, the Lithuanian parliament adopted an amended Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.

According to this law, "propaganda of homosexuality and bisexuality" has a damaging effect on minors and therefore information on homosexuality and bisexuality should be banned from schools and any other places where it can be accessed by young people. Ms Lambert wrote to the European Commission to request that it makes absolutely clear to Lithuanian President Adamkus that such legislation is unacceptable.

1.5 Million Signatures to Tackle Animal Testing
Caroline Lucas submitted a 1.5 million-strong petition to 10 Downing Street in July to call on the Government to develop a 'road map' to move towards the end of animal testing. Caroline was part of an all-party delegation organised by animal welfare group Uncaged, which collected the signatures to comprise what is understood to be the largest animal welfare petition in British history.

The Uncaged petition cited moral and scientific reasons to work towards eliminating animal experiments.

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