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Friday, 27 April 2012

A Green Fuuture for #Hull, Embracing #Renewables & Elected Mayors

(Originally published via Hull Republic) http://hullrepublic.tumblr.com/ Where once mighty ocean going vessels jostled for position alongside St Andrews dock, there’s now only rubble, rusting trolleys and the buried remnants of another world, where fishing was king, and where Hull truly did leave others in its wake. Over time, more of our industries have choked and expired, with the city now struggling under the weight of generations who have been without work for far too long, children born into benefit dependency, with all the healthcare issues and legacy of poor education that goes hand in hand with an end to aspiration. We live in the regenerative shadows of Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool. We are continually disregarded, with the exception of St Stephens, as our infrastructure crumbles. Our city has two overriding problems; firstly, we have for years lacked any form of visionary political leadership. People are disenchanted with politics. They do not see how it can bring the change they want, because they see how their views are ignored by the political class. Secondly, the legacy of Thatcher and New Labour has resulted in our industries fading away and dying, leaving generations of working people with no job, and legions of youngsters with no hope. Both problems are interconnected, and both need to be tackled simultaneously, if we are to provide our young with the chance to experience achievement, political engagement, and self-worth. What we need to do is to reinvigorate our local government by increasing democratic accountability. Whilst the majority of Councillors are good people working for the community, there are inevitably some who rely on antipathy to remain in office. The city electorate as a whole has no control over who is leader of the council. This demotivating factor goes a long way to making people feel powerless to bring about change via the ballot box. One way to counter this is through a Directly Elected Mayor. I believe that this would increase participation in elections and provide a unified and cohesive, accountable vision and strategy for the city. It would give voters the power to bring real change. If the mayor isn’t up to the job, he or she can be voted out. It gives people a reason to take ownership of local governance, as well as challenging the parties and candidates to formulate radical and robust strategies for the city’s future, bringing to and end the stagnation from which we have all suffered. Hull desperately needs to attract fresh opportunity through new technologies. The ‘green’ sector is flourishing, and our city is the perfect new home for such industry. We need strong, vocal political leadership in order to raise our voice above the clamour of hopeful locations vying for the revenues and jobs these industries create. The best way to do this is to market Hull as a ‘blank canvass’. We have legions of people, desperate to learn, desperate to earn, desperate to escape benefit dependency and to respect themselves once more. We have large swathes of disused land, ripe for modernisation, the foundations of great infrastructure, with maritime links, and what could be an excellent rail link to the nation and road network leading to the Humber Bridge and beyond if we could harness the political will to implement a strong, united claim for investment. The battle to bring vital new business in the form of environmentally friendly technology will be all the harder when led by an outdated and increasingly irrelevant council system which survives on the antipathy of disillusioned and bereft voters. We need a strong, passionate and visionary voice for Hull. We need someone to lead us in our struggle for a new legacy for our young, and our disenfranchised working classes. We need someone upon whom we can all exercise the ultimate sanction if they fail to live up to our expectations. The city’s electorate needs to be taken on an exciting journey of opportunity, of new industry, of tangible investment in roads and facilities, to a place where there is a chance of a job, and a reason to lift their gaze from the floor. Whitehall has shown time and again that it neither cares for Hull, nor is it willing to part with the cash for investment we need. The city must therefore, be its own cheerleader, architect, and navigator on a journey to the future we all want and deserve. That can only be achieved through direct accountability, and the scrutiny of a motivated electorate. The first step on that exciting journey must start with embracing a new age. To cherish our past is essential, but we must throw open our doors to these exciting new technologies, as well as our minds to the possibility that an elected mayor just might give us a say on where our great city is heading after all. Thanks for reading. Karl Davis for HullRePublic. HullRePublic would like to thank Karl for his thought-provoking post and look forward to working with him again in the future. So what do you think? Should Hull have elected Mayors? Leave us a comment. Get in touch. Share. Make the Change. Karl Davis is a train driver and trade union activist, having held a number of elected positions within the train driver’s union, ASLEF and the TUC. Karl lives in Hull, East Yorkshire, and is married with a young son. A Labour party member and community campaigner, Karl is a member of Labour’s Future Candidate’s Programme, and has played pivotal roles in numerous local campaigns on the issues of housing, corporate manslaughter, Health & Safety for agency workers, Trawlermen’s issues, and also acted as Secretary to the families of the crew of MV Gaul, a Hull based fishing vessel lost in mysterious circumstances in the Barents Sea in 1974. Karl assisted in organising and co-ordinating the campaign to successfully pressure the government into re-opening the Formal Inquiry into the vessel’s loss. Karl is a keen writer, regularly contributing articles to publications, including Guardian (Comment is Free), The Progressive Journal of London and The ASLEF Journal, amongst others. He has appeared on numerous local BBC News outlets connected with a multitude of issues, and engages in public speaking in support various causes. He is currently collaborating with the Universities of Brighton & Bournemouth respectively, on a new book aimed at mental health professionals treating those affected by suicide. Karl is also busily writing his first novel, and posts on twitter as @karldavis1979. His blog can be found at; www.karl-davis.blogspot.com

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