Friday 19 July 2013

New Cross Community Council Updates and Meetings and contact details.

Subject: NX Community Survey Update + NCIA in NX this monday, NXCF facebook and party in the park 14 sept fordham park
If you don't want to get these emails please reply to say so, this list has been cobbled together from loads of sources over a long time and there's a good chance that some people on it don't really want to be. Sorry if that's the case, but please let me know if it is.
We are now ready to move on to the next stage of more in depth interviews for the Community Survey having done a good number of street interviews. We are preparing funding applications, so we can start to reward both interviewers and interviewees (probably with vouchers or similar) and more. If you're interested in either helping with funding applications or being involved in designing or running interviews, please email me as i'll only be posting very occasional updates on this list.
Please join New Cross Community Forum Facebook group, and encourage any of your friends who use Facebook and live, work, study in (or care about) the area to join too -
Also coming this Monday:
Here We Stand: NCIA Inquiry into Local Activism & Dissent
What does this mean for you?
Venue: 170 Community Project, 170 New Cross Road, SE14
Date & Timing: 22 July 2013 7-9 pm (networking and refreshments from 6.30 pm)
• Presentation of report findings
• Critical response to report from local practitioners
• Open debate and discussion – ways forward
Background to the report
The National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA) is an alliance of individuals and groups who have come together to assert the right of people to act collectively and independently from Government and other powerful political, business and financial interests. The NCIA Inquiry was to find out the different forms of activism for social justice which were springing up locally, especially in the current circumstances of austerity and cuts; and the different models of radical support - the ‘back office’ for activism. NCIA wanted to hear from people how they go about changing the world locally or safeguarding what is important to them. To know how NCIA might encourage more forms of independent action, to be part of it and to make connections for future relationships, alliances and actions. We were joined in the Inquiry by the Community Audit and Evaluation Centre of Manchester Metropolitan University.
The questions we have
The Inquiry was undertaken to answer two essentially political questions:
Where can resistance and alternatives to injustice be found?
Where are the homes for such action?
For the purposes of this Inquiry, we were interested in independent voluntary action to safeguard
equitable arrangements, to challenge and change public policies or practices, spending
decisions or commercial practices that unfairly disadvantage people, perpetuate inequality and
discrimination, or fragment and undermine communities. Our interests therefore lie in political
advocacy, direct action and individual advocacy if it aims to change the root causes which create
individual problems; and in support which provides for challenge and change.
To access the report:
To book onto the event:

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Your MPs Expenses detailed abuse of public funds the truth the main stream press fail to report. Why this bunch of Crooks need Eviction of Public office in 2015


MPs' Expenses Watchdogs ejected and replaced

In January 2012 we wrote a postabout "The House of Commons Committee on Members' Expenses" calling for £20,000 pay rises. This would be achieved by converting certain 'expenses' that must be costs proved to be incurred for the sole purpose of MPs doing their jobs into 'regional supplements' that are just paid to MPs regardless. That Commons committee last met in December 2011, and has patiently waited, with no  minuted meetings, for the whole of 2012.

No meetings in the whole of 2012? In spite of the committee's recommendation, made in December 2011, that:

"In not more than six months' time, the House should have the opportunity to consider the merits of that cost-benefit analysis and evaluation and to make a decision on whether there should or should not be a system of regional supplements instead of the existing travel and accommodation provisions."

What ever were they waiting for? 

In the summer of 2012 an advert appeared on the parliamentary website:

Applicants invited for IPSA board membership....Individuals put forward for appointment by the House of Commons must have been selected by the Speaker on merit on the basis of fair and open competition, with the agreement of the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. 

In case you were wondering, IPSA (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) was, in its own words:

"created in 2009 by the Parliamentary Standards Act. We are tasked with independently monitoring and controlling MPs’ expenses, pay and pensions. We set up new rules to make a clean break with the past."

"The past" being broken with is the parliamentary expenses scandal. The scandal that shocked and entertained the nation with stories of duck houses, moats, mortgage flipping, and more mundane dodgy expense claims by MPs and peers giving their incomes a dubious top-up. 

January 2013 saw the end of the terms of members of the original IPSA board created in 2009. There had been an expectation that those board members who wanted to stay would be automatically extended for one further term. However, the anger of MPs continuing to get their fingers caught in the public purse demanded revenge. Which the Speaker, John Bercow, provided by ruling that the entire board of IPSA must reapply for their jobs, and by putting a member of his own committee on the selection panel. Unsurprisingly apart from the chairman (whose appointment goes to 2014) all the members of the original board decided to leave, making the following statement on the 13th November 2012:

"The four ordinary members of IPSA’s Board have today announced they did not reapply for their positions. Of course, these are individual choices but one contributing factor was their concern about the process used to appoint and reappoint members to the Board. 

These concerns were first set out in an exchange of letters between IPSA chair, Sir Ian Kennedy, and the Speaker over the summer. The letters are available here:

Sir Ian Kennedy will continue as IPSA chair."

Their concerns were illustrated by the sentiments of a member of the Speaker's Committee on IPSA (SCIPSA), Sir Bob Russell:

“The donkeys are the board of Ipsa who have created a regime which means 38 per cent of all claims cost more to process than the claim is for."

TELEGRAPH 15/11/12 

The original board members were well aware that it would be the Speaker and SCIPSA's (including Sir Bob) responsibility to recommend the new board.

MPs smokescreen their "gratuitous hostility" to IPSA with claims that it wastes their time and taxpayers' money. MPs observe that it costs £6m a year to fund IPSA. Have MPs overlooked the fact that the cost of IPSA is about the same as the taxpayer’s subsidy for the House of Commons bars and restaurants (£5.8 million a year)? 

In their cost consciousness, would MPs wield a knife at both of these? In the case of food subsidies it was less a case of wielding a knife than waving the cutlery at the food-laden crockery.

Perhaps our well-fed parliamentarians don't make the connection between the two because subsidised food and drink are a perk they (as well as former MPs for their lifetimes) enjoy above and beyond their pay and expenses. 

Freedom of Information requests in 2012 unearthed a medley of menus from a roster of restaurants which reveal MPs can enjoy a smorgasbord of dishes including a 3 course meal for £15 (menu on the right). But lets not dwell here on the soups, sauces and syllabub on offer at knock-down prices**. Enough to say that when it comes to waste, IPSA seems a far better use of taxpayers' money.

In terms of the MPs’ time filling out expenses, according to a survey of 128 MPs 79%  spent less than 2 hours a week, with 24% saying they spent no time at all making claims (presumably leaving that to their staff).

MPs bleating that this time is time spent away from working for their constituents should ask themselves how so many of their number find time for their lucrative second jobs (or is it being an MP that is the secondary job?) as directors and partners of firms and consultancies earning them in many cases far more than their MP’s salaries. 

MPs defend their other paid employments claiming they keep them in touch with the ‘real world’ making them better MPs. If that is so, why don't these MPs feel it worthwhile keeping in touch with the ‘real world’ by working on minimum wage as a supermarket shelf stacker or as a teaching assistant in the inner city?

But all this fuss about MPs' dodgy expenses misses the point of what IPSA is really for. IPSA are watchdogs put in place by public anger at MPs proved misbehaviour.

It would be ignorant to judge our police force only by the crimes they solve and the value of stolen goods they recover. They should also be given credit for the value of goods that are not stolen, the cost of court appearances that are not needed, the expense of prison that are not required, and the damage of trauma not inflicted on victims of crimes that never were because of their deterrence value. Give the cops credit for all the crimes that did not happen because crooks feared the consequences.

As it is for the police, so it should be for the Parliamentary expenses watchdog IPSA. Judge IPSA not by how much money they doled out, nor how much they withheld. Judge IPSA by the fact that they have discouraged MPs sniffing around looking for opportunities to make a few extra quid through a bit of fraud. MPs who do not hold themselves to the highest standards - either through their innate honour or through fear of disgraceful exposure by IPSA - will not hold others to the highest standards.

Britain is awash with dodgy dealing. Traders rig everything from energy markets to bank interest rates. Blue chip companies mis-sell anything from phone contracts to pensions to mortgages to payment protection insurance and more. Banks hide billions for tax dodgers and launder money for drug cartels. Britain is awash with dodgy dealing that has resulted in economic mayhem and misery. How is it that none of the leading perpetrators has gone to a British jail? Massive fines are paid by company shareholders (including our pension funds), but the actual perpetrators carry on business as usual.

Ultimately the fault is not with the regulators nor with the courts. The fault is with the lawmakers - our MPs. The reason why expenses is important is not so much the expenses themselves. It is the mindset of our lawmakers that doing dodgy stuff to make a quick quid is acceptable. An MP who has justified to himself fiddling his expenses will find it harder to legislate to penalise the fiddling of a banker. An MP who is held to account will write laws that hold others to account.

Anyway, the new IPSA board members have to be judged by their work:
  • The Hon. Sir (Alexander) Neil Butterfield, former judge
  • Elizabeth Padmore, chairman and board member of various worthy organisations.
  • Anne Whitaker MA ACA, the auditor member
  • Professor Tony Wright, former MP from 1992-2010
Laws are like spiders webs: designed to trap the weak but allow the strong to push over. Let us hope that the new spiders weaving the web at IPSA are subject to the same gratuitous hostility from MPs as the original board members. That will show that they are doing a good job, and their web has proved not to be a push over.

**For the record, the £15 cost of a 3 course meal in Parliament would buy the likes of you and me a medium pizza from Dominos without any extra toppings.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Kings Road / Fulham road Chelsea large 1 bedroom apartment in great Location at just £325 per week or Email;

Housemartins best estate agent in London.Kings Road to South East London They have the awards to prove it. best service and no rip of fees.

Housemartins in Surrey Quays and New Cross Deptford have huge range of homes to let in South East London and as far as Kings Road Chelsea wre they have a large 1 bedroom mansion flat at £325 per week, for Chelsea this is a low rate. go to the website;
If you are a good Landlord and value your tenants as well as tenants looking for an agent that values your business and looks after you, then this is best agentcy. No charges and sack bad Landlords.
Housemartinsd also fund huge number of community projects including the Greenwich and Lewisham food Banks.
Housemartins have large number of Landlords who rent at fair rents, ie flats from £550 per month, however these cheaper flats are rare to market as tenants stay with Housemartins for ever due to fair rents and quality of service. sometimes they do get the odd rougue Landlord which they can do little to sort other than fire.
They were fiirst agent to give Tenants back up and support on deposit protection .

Short stay.Short lets in London / Cotswolds Countryside charactor holiday Romantic Thatch cottages from £250

Housemartins Estate Agents seems to offer the best rates for short and Holiday lets in London & countryside , you can rent a holiday apartment starting at just £200 inclusive of all bills for short stay going up to £1200 for 4 bedroom waterside house. Most of the London apartments are within zones 1 and 2 so ideal for getting around.
Looking for a romantic escape? Housemartins have some wonderful Thatch cottages dating back to 1700 to let from £250 for long weekend, sleeping 4 this is cheaper than staying in a hostal. prices are fully inclusive in the Cotswold area with profits raised going back into the Community. then click on the holiday letting tab at top of page.

Niguelas Lecrin Valley Spain Charming tradition House in the Mountails for sale with Housemartins

Need to escape the madness of life in London, rising house prices, poor quality of life and need to find time to reflect, recharge and be part of a very active community than Granada Spain could be for you .
House Martins estate agents have been instructed to sell this wonderful rustic house in the Mountains just a short drive to Beach, skying and Granda City for your 145.000 Euro , with 3 bedrooms, 3 receptions, stunning mountain views and with real spain on your door step, this makes i think great value.

Monday 15 July 2013

Priced Out; 40% of all London property sales are going to South East Asia Investors.

Is London really in a property bubble?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Published by WARREN LEWIS

Is London really in a property bubble?
Average prices in Prime London Central (PLC) have risen significantly over the last six years to stand 34% higher than pre-credit crunch levels, according to HM Land Registry monthly house price data analysed by London Central Portfolio
This compares with England and Wales where prices are still 12% below their peak. Whilst this inevitably sparks debate over whether PLC is experiencing a property ‘bubble’, LCP sees the other side of the coin. 

Firstly, this price growth includes a strong bounce-back following the fall in prices during the credit crunch. This means that prices over the six year period are actually in-line with long term trends, which show average price growth of 9% per annum. 

Secondly, for overseas investors, who are reported to make up at least 60% of the total buying population, property in London’s best addresses actually looks ‘cheap’.

Investors from South East Asia, who comprise the largest proportion of LCP’s buyers at 40%, have profited the most from a weakening sterling. For buyers in Hong Kong and Singapore, currency adjusted property prices have actually fallen, dropping by 10% and 12% respectively since their 2007 high. In Malaysia, where the Ringgit has strengthened significantly over the last six years, the price drop was also 10% and in Thailand, prices saw a marginal growth of 3% over the same period.

Investors from the Middle East, where the currency is pegged to the US dollar, have also felt the benefit of sterling’s decline. When exchange rates are taken into account, prices for these buyers’ stand just 6% higher than the peak of the market prior to the credit crunch.

London is a financial centre, a ‘go-to’ destination, a pinnacle of culture and an educational hot-spot. Importantly, during the credit crunch with the upsets in the Eurozone and the Arab Spring, London Central’s safe haven status has pushed it even further to the fore. It is no surprise then, that the resultant effect of the low cost of sterling, coupled with cheap debt has stimulated an influx of foreign buyers into PLC. 

Moreover, the appointment of Mark Carney as the new Governor of the Bank of England has brought further good news for potential PLC investors. Interest rates remained static at 0.5% for the 53rd consecutive month as the MPC maintained the status-quo and indicated that there was little expectation of change before 2016. This saw the pound drop even further (by over 1%). 

Naomi Heaton, CEO of London Central Portfolio has this to say:

“Whilst it may sound absurd, property prices in PLC look particularly good value for international investors as prices in their home markets rise substantially and sterling remains so weak. For Singaporean investors, for example, the average PLC property cost S$2,003,276 in October 2007 but costs S$1,718,044 today. So, not only does PLC residential provide excellent prospects of capital growth, given that strong demand consistently outstrips supply, it looks excellent value for money for overseas buyers” 
People Before profit are calling for a Ban on Overseas investors at this scale, it sees the profits paid going to overseas property investment companies with no UK benefit, it is pushing up prices and robbing London workers of the chance of a home, whilst at the same time pushing up the rental market pricing people out. It has to be regulated and this will play a big part in people before Profit Local election campaigns in 2014.

Greenwich Council lead by Labour Party ( Greenwich Theatre ) abuse of power truly shocking and does not deserve to be running the Council in 2014

Outrage as pledge on Greenwich theatre is reversed

By Rob Virtue on July 12, 2013 11:16 AM |   
A controversial application to turn a much-loved theatre space into short-stay accommodation has been approved by Greenwich Council.
Beds and Bars, owner of St Christopher's Inn hostel and Belushi's pub, next door to Greenwich station, always denied it was planning on turning the space into rooms after it told Galleon Theatre Company it would not renew its lease last year.
However, the group soon backtracked and carried out the renovation.
After being ordered by Greenwich Council to apply for permission retrospectively to build the four dorms, and despite over 130 people writing to object at the loss of the theatre, the planning committee unanimously approved the works last week.
The row began last January, when the Galleon Theatre Company revealed it was being ejected from the space after 12 years.
A spokesman for Beds and Bars denied the company had always intended to turn it into accommodation.
"We wanted to keep it as a theatre but went to market with it and looked at the feasibility of running it ourselves and it was almost impossible to do," he said.
"So in the end we went back to what we do - short stay accommodation."
He admitted the fact they carried out the renovation without council permission was "embarrassing".
However, the saga has infuriated Galleons director Alice de Sousa.
de sousa.jpg
"Residents, people from the US, heads of universities, all wrote to the council calling for the theatre to be saved but they've been completed ignored," she said.
"We ran a very successful theatre there since 1999, paying a very large rent and bringing people through the door of the bar.
"The fact Bed and Bars did the build without planning permission gives developers the green light to go ahead regardless of planning approval. Some councils give out large fines for such behaviour, but not Greenwich."
The council report said: "Whilst the loss of the theatre is regrettable, alternative community facilities are available in the area."

Green Party Position on immigration statement by the party leader great balance to the media obsession with UKIP

Green Party leader attacks "race to the bottom" on immigration

12 July 2013
In a speech given at the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy today (July 12, 2013) Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, attacked the "race to the bottom" on immigration.
Speaking in the Romanian Cultural Institute she condemned the "toxic, dangerous rhetoric" on immigration and expressed her anger that it "is not being challenged – instead it is being pandered to."
That in terms of the poliical debate "We have in Britain a “race to the bottom” on immigration rhetoric."
Full text below.

This month, the Home Office, working under the direction of our Tory-Liberal Democrat Government, put out a report on the impact of immigration. It conducted a survey of local authorities and service providers, and found that the presence of immigrants was likely to lead to longer waiting times at GP surgeries, pressure on the number of primary school places due to the tendency of migrants to have more children than the native-born population and “poor quality, overcrowded accommodation, inflated rents, exploitations by unscrupulous landlords…”
Exactly the same data could have been taken, and looked at differently. Longer waiting times at GP surgeries – that reflects the failure of the government to provide adequate investment in the cost-effective, efficient publicly owned NHS, and the disruption caused by the wholesale, top-down reorganisation of the organisation by the current and previous governments, despite their lack of a mandate for the act.
Pressure on primary school places – the failure to make adequate provision for the known number of children, and the misdirection of money into areas where there isn’t need due to the ideological attachment of the Education Secretary to “free” schools.
Poor quality, overcrowded accommodation and exploitation – Britain’s longterm failure to build adequate housing, particularly social housing, and failure to regulate landlords and letting agents, to the point where protests against their abstractions are growing.
In short, it’s simple, the government is scapegoating immigrants instead of acknowledging its own failings and that of the former Labour government.
They are taking the understandable anger of the British public at the shortage and high cost of housing, at the underfunding of public transport and health services, at struggle to find a school place for your child, and trying to direct that to one group of British people.
It’s pernicious, it’s dangerous, and it needs to be challenged.
You might expect the Labour opposition to be standing up to this scapegoating, but no, instead they are pandering to it. The Labour Party has not apologised for taking Britain into the Iraq War, has not apologised for failing to regulate the bankers, has not apologised for the fact that inequality rose in its 13 years in power – but it has apologised for its immigration policy while in government.
But back to today… The Telegraph newspaper quoted Mark Harper, the immigration minister, as saying of the study: "It emphasises the importance of protecting our public services and taking a robust approach against those who come here to exploit our welfare system.”
I entirely agree with the first half of that sentence – although unfortunately this government is, through its policy of austerity and ideological attachment to privatisation, cutting a giant swathe through our essential services.
The second half of the sentence – well it is a total non sequiteur, since the survey was not about benefits, but worse, much worse, a misleading claim. 
We’ve seen much focus in recent months from this government about the claim that immigrants are attracted to Britain by benefits. There is simply no evidence of this claim. 
You don’t have to just believe me, you can go to the European Commission, not known for picking fights with member governments, which has accused Home Secretary Theresa May of inventing the problem of welfare tourism without providing any proof that EU foreign nationals are abusing free movement rules to claim benefits.
And as for asylum-seekers, research commissioned by the Home Office concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that they had detailed knowledge about the UK benefits system – when fleeing persecution, they usually go where events take them, and when they do seek out Britain, it is usually because they already have family or friends here. And Britain is not especially a target. In 2011, the UK received 25,500 asylum applicants. France gets twice as many – and Britain is 14th out of 27 when looking at asylum seekers per head of population.
The deconstruction of this report is no academic exercise. It’s a critical issue of political debate in Britain.

The facts of immigration
First, it’s important to set the facts straight. It’s very easy to follow the rhetoric of the government and the rightwing media, and think that immigration is one of Britain’s chief problems. Or that immigration has entirely changed the face and culture of Britain. 
A study out this week found that generally, Britons think 31 per cent of the population is recent immigrants. In fact the figure is 13% - representing about 7.5 million people. Black and Asian people are thought to make up 30 per cent of the population, when the figure is closer to 11 per cent.
Turn the lens around, and about 5.5 million British people live in other countries around the globe. So the overall scale of exchange isn’t that far off balanced.
Second, it’s important to acknowledge the contribution of immigrants to Britain. The NHS could not operate without immigrant workers. Our social care system, and our education system are significantly dependent on immigrant workers.
If you measure this in financial terms, migrants make a significant net contribution to their funding through their tax and national insurance contributions. They make a net contribution to the UK economy of £3 billion. Because they are often young, healthy, and skilled, their use of public services is limited – much lower than that of the general population. 
But of course their contribution isn’t only through employment, whether they are young or old. The grandmother who moves to Britain to be with her family – she might be providing childcare, or she might simply be providing the solidity, the knowledge, the experience of a lifetime. The partner who moves to Britain to be a “house husband” brings not only time and love, but also the cultural experience of a different life experience. The foreign student brings to their local course a whole host of different experiences, knowledge and skills to their local classmates, to the enrichment of all.

The political climate
So where is this attack on immigrants coming from? Politically, the answer is clear. Recently, I had the “pleasure” of being on Question Time with UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
He said there were 80,000 Romanians in Britain, and that the Metropolitan Police made nearly 30,000 Romanian arrests in the last five years. As a smear, it has clearly been effective, and often used. 
Actually the figure for Romanians in Britain is, based on the Labour Force Survey, there are around 102,000 Romanians are Britain. That’s at one point in time, the end of 2012.
The arrest figures are over five years – and are actually less than 28,000. And they are only arrests – not individuals. And they undoubtedly include some tourists, not included in the resident figures. Undoubtedly there are some individuals arrested multiple times – and arrests are not charges, not convictions … and we are talking over five years.
The figures around broadly accurate in each individual case, but their manner of assembly deeply dishonest, deeply misleading, and deeply dangerous.
I am speaking today in the Romanian Cultural Institute – and I know that there is offence and worry in Romania about the way its people have been painted in Britain, by Mr Farage, by our rightwing media. I can only apologise.
Yet this toxic, dangerous rhetoric from UKIP is not being challenged – instead it is being pandered to. We have in Britain a “race to the bottom” on immigration rhetoric.
Less than two in 10 people in Britain think that immigration is a problem in their local area, but about three quarters are in favour of reducing immigration. That’s the product of this rhetoric. 

Genuine, reasonable concerns, wrongly directed
We need to acknowledge people’s real concerns about their standards of living, the future of their children, the problems of housing, of public services, of unemployment and low wages, but we need to lay the blame where it truly lies, not casually, cruelly, dangerously, blame immigrants.
About one in ten new jobs goes to an immigrant. And we have a minimum wage which should be a floor under a balanced labour market. Yet this is inadequately enforced, too low (well below the living wage level at which it should be set), and firms are being allowed to increasingly use zero-hours contracts and forced casualization to provide jobs that no one can build a life on. This is an issue of labour market regulation, not immigration.
We need to acknowledge too that people, particularly in the South of England, are feeling crowded. The London Tube too often feels like you might imagine a sardine in a can does. Traffic congestion is a huge problem, and a huge health threat. Housing cost inflation is out of control.
But there are also a million empty homes in Britain, whole streets and even suburbs tormented by depopulation in the North of England. The congestion comes not due to immigration, but the failure of regional development policy to spread prosperity across the whole of the UK, not just concentrate it in London and environs.
And there is of course grave concern about Britain’s environmental impact on the world. We’re living a “three planet” lifestyle, when we only have one earth. But was Green Party policy makes clear, what we have to talk about is our ecological footprint – we need to get back within the planet’s limits, but that’s true not just of the UK, but the world. 

Immigration cap
The government has established an effective immigration cap – promising that net immigration would be reduced “to tens of thousands” by the end of this parliament. Of course this ignores the fact that it has no control whatsoever over one side of this equation – immigration from Britain, the product of a whole host of individual circumstances.
More, it is promising that those coming into Britain will almost all be “the brightest and the best”.
In a speech this month, Tory MP Liam Fox said the government should “have a really good look at the type of people who will benefit our country and help generate wealth and prosperity”. “Nobody should assume they have the right to come to our country because they have relatives already here” - so there goes the right to a family life, acknowledged as a human right…
And more, there’s an important question to be asked about the value judgements here – is a hedge fund trader, who might have a high income, really more valuable than a carer, an arms company executive really more valuable than a beloved grandma? I don’t believe so – indeed the New Economics Foundation did an excellent study showing that for every £1 they are paid, childcare workers generate between £7 and £9.50 worth of benefits to society. By contrast a city banker destroys £7 of social value for every pound they generate.

The impact of the changes
Net migration fell to 153,000 in 2012, from 242,000 the previous year. The number of immigrants coming to Britain fell from 581,000 to 500,000, while the number of migrants leaving the country was up from 339,000 to 347,000.
But asked the BBC to explain, the Institute of Public Policy Research think tank said this was “in large part” due to a drop in the numbers of international students, with “considerable economic cost” – estimated at £2-3 billion/year (conservatively). 
You might expect the Labour Party to be highlighting, focusing on that cost, that loss of fees for our universities, the loss of opportunities for home students to study with a rich range of fellow students, but no, Labour welcomed the fall, saying the "pace and scale of immigration" had been too high. And shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant added that the government, "is not doing enough on illegal immigration, failing to deport, failing to prevent absconding". 

Family reunion
The tightest of the toughening of government rules has been in family reunion visas – we now have among the toughest rules in Europe.
Any British citizen who wants to sponsor his or her non-EU spouse's visa has to be able to prove that they earn at least £18,600 a year - 47 percent of the British working population last year would have failed to meet the income level for sponsorship. The amount rises to £22,400 to sponsor a child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.) 
By the government's own estimate, almost 18,000 British people will be prevented from being reunited with their spouse or partner in the UK annually as a result of the new rules.
Pick up your local paper and you’ll often read these stories – individuals who’ve made relationships, formed ties, and are understandly bemused, confused, angered, that they can’t live together as a couple, can’t even care for their children in their home country. We are failing these individuals – failing our society by creating this situation.
These rules are unconscionable. They are unfair and arbitrary. And they must be changed.

Proud tradition of asylum
I live in central London around the corner from the Somers Town Coffee House, once the haven for Hugenot refugees from France, fleeing religious persecution. It’s one visual reminder of Britain’s proud tradition of providing refuge to those who need it, particularly political refugees.
But that reputation today is under threat. It’s a subject that I’ll be speaking on another time, but one statistic is telling - in 2012, 27 per cent of initial asylum rulings were overturned on appeal. 
And the Green Party has long campaigned against the failure to recognise gender aspects of persecution. The system also fails to acknowledge the persecution faced by LGBQT people in many countries around the world.

Global damage
The impact of the rhetoric of immigration, of government policies and policies proposals, stretches far beyond immigrants, prospective immigrants and their families.
Recently the government – the Liberal Democrats to the fore - floated a trial balloon suggesting that visitors (not immigrants) from a number of states, including India, could be forced to pay a £3,000 bond, to be repaid when they left the country. 
I went on a major Indian evening television show where this was a topic of debate, to explain this didn’t reflect the views of all Britons, and was almost buried under a torrent of anger. Indians were insulted, they were angry, and they were threatening not just not to visit but to withdrew investment flows into Britain. It was unsurprising that David Cameron, who recently visited India with an ‘open for business’ message, quickly reversed the policy, but damage has definitely been done. 

In 2011, Green Party conference passed a motion opposing the government’s cap on immigration.
It said we should stop “treating those who are not native to the UK as a problem”. Today, it’s important to restate that.
The approach to immigration of the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour distracts from our real problems – the failure of George Osborne’s policy of austerity, acknowledged now even by that well-known “champion “ of government spending the International Monetary Fund, the deep damage being done to our social fabric by the government’s ideologically driven assault on our public services and the social safety net provided by benefits.
And further more, it is going to have real world, serious, even potentially deadly consequences. The declaring of open rhetorical season on migrants by the majority of our politicians is a signal. It’s a signal to the drunk man in the pub, who wants a target for his abusive tongue, and quite possibly his fists, and is now increasingly likely to find it in someone who is, or he perceives to be, an immigrant. It’s a signal to the irate woman on the overcrowded bus, ready to launch a tirade at a fellow passenger who might be an immigrant.
We have a responsibility to say “enough”. To acknowledge that we need to welcome immigrants, to regard them not as economic pawns, but people, with families, with friends, with feelings – who deserve, and must get respect, and respectful treatment. 
Cultural diplomacy begins at home.