During the last few months, a number of Incredible Edible groups around the UK have been getting together online to share their stories from the last two years. Pam Warhurst and the Incredible Edible Community Interest Company (CIC) board felt that an important way forward for the movement was to make it easier for local communities to have the right to grow on public land within local authorities in England. It is already easier to do this in Scotland and Wales.
The campaign was launched at the House of Lords on May 4th, 2022, and I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the event. It was my first time in the capital for well over two years. Before entering the House of Lords, we had to pass through airport type security and I don’t think I have ever seen so many fully armed policemen on duty. We were not the only group visiting that day and it was surprisingly busy. One of the first rooms that we passed was the House of Lords gift shop!
The event was held in the Attlee and Reid rooms. There was a view of the Thames through smallish windows. The room was decorated with some very expensive wallpaper, an impressive portrait of Clement Attlee and some other paintings by Michael Heseltine. I am not 100% sure but I believe the Reid part refers to Jimmy Reid, the well known Scottish socialist trade union leader.
The room is advertised as holding events for up to 60 people and it was full. There was representation form Incredible Edible (IE) groups from Prestwich, Leeds, Portmadoc, Lambeth, and Mossley. There were at least three Lords / Baronesses and two MPs present. Several other groups were also represented including the Town and country Planning Association, Rights Community Action, who helped make the Campaign happen, Health Economic Partnership at the NHS and the Landmark Trust’s lawyers.
Pam was the first to speak and was her usual inspiring self. She gave the background to the CIC’s thinking and why the change was necessary. Pam was followed by the Baronesses Boycott and Young who are supporting the change to the law. Next came Mike Cane, the MP for Wythenshaw who will be introducing the change to the law in the House of Commons. The mechanism for this will be through a 10-minute rule bill, also known as Standing Order 23, whereby Private members can introduce Bills to parliament. It is hoped that this will be a non-party political issue and will therefore gain support to progress further. Local Authorities would be obliged to keep a register of suitable land for growing food and allow responsible groups to do so.
After the speeches, there was time for networking and afternoon tea. It is, of course, always good to chat with like-minded folks from all over the country, who have a common interest of protecting our precious environment for future generations.
There was another meeting straight after ours, so we soon ushered out and off to the pub in Whitehall for a quick drink before heading back to the station.
I will be contacting our MP here in Bury South. I did invite him to the meeting but as he was in Poland, he did have a good excuse for not attending. If you don’t live in Bury South we would be very grateful if you could contact your own MP, email them and inform them of the campaign.
For more explanation, please read the campaign document from Incredible Edible.